UPDATE: On November 16, 2020, Mayor Jim Kenney and Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley amended a June 26 executive order requiring people to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Philadelphia. This amended order does not apply to children age 2 years or younger. 

In addition to staying at home, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands thoroughly, wearing a mask in public is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others around you from COVID-19. Many people are making their own masks for themselves and others with what they have available at home. Here are some tips to make sure you know why, when, and how to properly use a mask. 

Why wear a mask

You can transmit COVID-19 coronavirus even if you don’t feel sick. Some people can be contagious without even knowing that they have COVID-19. Remember that washing hands and keeping away from others are still important even though you are wearing a mask. 

When to use a mask 

  • Inside any public space 
  • Outside when you can’t maintain a social distance of 6 feet 
  • In a group setting (shelter, group home) 
  • On public transportation or in a ride-share service 

Note: Social distancing is still important, even if you wear a mask. You should still limit your close contact with others outside your home.  Wearing a mask is not an excuse to hang out with friends, neighbors, and family who do not live with you.

When you do not need a mask 

  • You don’t need a mask to go for a walk, run, or bike ride alone or with someone you live with if and only if you stay at least 6 feet from others. Read our blog on top tips for exercising safely at our Parks and Recreation sites.
    Choose places to exercise where you have room to keep your distance.
    – Wear a gaiter or bandana around your neck and pull it up over your mouth and nose if you will be passing someone else and cannot maintain distance.
  • You don’t need to wear a mask if you are driving alone. But bring one along for when you reach your destination. 
  • You don’t need a mask when eating and drinkingMake sure to keep distance from co-workers and others if you are eating in a public place. 

How to use a mask 

  • Use cloth face coverings, not surgical masks or N95 respirators. 
  • Health care providers are experiencing serious shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), like N95 respirators. Fill out this form if you have PPE to donate. 
  • You can make a mask at home with common items you already have. 
  • Make sure your mask fits well around the mouth and nose without any gaps. 
  • Use 2-3 layers of close-fitting fabric. 
  • Choose a mask that is comfortable enough for you to keep it on whenever you are in public places. Make sure you can breathe easily while wearing it. 
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer before and after removing or adjusting the mask. 
  • Wash your mask in the regular laundry daily and whenever wet or soiled. 
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unable to remove the mask without assistance. 
  • Face shields can be worn with cloth masks for those who want additional protection or instead of cloth masks for those who are uncomfortable breathing in a mask. 

You can even have a little fun with your mask or face covering! Show your personality with your favorite color (Eagles green) or a pattern that you like, and snap a pic to encourage your friends and family to wear their mask too. For mask graphics that you can share on social media, check out our Facebook albums. 

Remember: My mask protects you, and your mask protects me. If both people interacting are wearing masks and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance, you reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19. Do your part and help stop the spread: wear a mask! 

Read the executive order requiring people to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Philadelphia.