(Dr. Theresa Tam / Government of Canada)

Canadian health officials have changed their position on non-medical mask use amid COVID-19, from stating “it’s a good idea” to “we recommend it.”

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam made the announcement on Wednesday during a press conference, saying the federal government is now recommending the use of non-medical masks in situations where physical distancing is not possible.

“Where COVID-19 related activity is happening, the use of non-medical masks or face coverings is recommended, as an added layer of protection when physical distancing is difficult to maintain,” said Dr. Tam in today’s address.

She also added that “proper cough etiquette, physical distancing and hand-washing measures are a minimum,” during the spring and summer months.

Additionally, she reiterated that masks protect others, not those that are wearing them, and said that if two people are wearing masks, they are both more likely to be protected.

Tam also noted that there are provincial differences in community spread of COVID-19, and went on to point out that last week Transport Canada made it mandatory for all air passengers to wear non-medical masks or face coverings during travel.

Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, reminds Canadians that medical masks are to be reserved for health care workers.

“Medical-grade masks must be reserved for health care workers. But for the general public, if we find ourselves in circumstances where it’s not possible to maintain social distance from other people, it is an extra layer of protection,” said Dr. Njoo.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he will wear a non-medical mask on Parliament Hill, and told reporters today that he has started wearing a mask when he is out of his home and cannot be two metres away from other people.

The Prime Minister also wore one today when he arrived at the House of Commons for an in-person sitting.