VICTORIA -- Masks have become mandatory in some parts of the country, but here in B.C. it’s mainly still optional. So, what do some of the region’s top doctors have to say about wearing masks in the community?

Dr. Dee Hoyano – one of two medical health officers in the Island Health Authority’s Sooke, West Shore, Saanich Peninsula, Southern Gulf Island and Urban Greater Victoria region – recommends that masks be used when you are not able to maintain physical separation of two metres from other people.

Hoyano adds that masks may be required in some workplaces by WorksafeBC, and should be worn in enclosed spaces when near other people.

The main purpose of wearing a mask is to protect others from your droplets, preventing the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, how you wear a mask can be just as important as wearing a mask at all, according to Hoyano.

“You want to make sure that it is covering both your nose and your mouth because the droplets can come out from both places,” she said.

“So just walking around with it just covering your chin or your mouth is not going to be as effective as if you were wearing it completely on your face”

There are several types of masks to choose from; disposable, cloth or medical grade. Hoyano recommends using either a cloth or disposable mask for everyday use so that there is enough medical grade masks for frontline workers.

“When you are choosing what kind of face covering to wear it is important to make sure it is comfortable and it’s positioned in a way that you’re not having to constantly readjust it or fiddle around with it,” said Hoyano.

Other tips from the medical health officer including applying hand sanitizer before putting on a mask, and after taking it off.

Disposable masks shouldn’t be reused and should be placed in the trash after one use.

Meanwhile, cloth or reusable masks should be placed in a large paper envelope after each use so they can dry. They should not be stored in plastic bags as this can trap moister and keep the mask damp.

Cloth masks should be also washed regularly. Hoyano recommends having multiple masks so you can change them throughout the day.

The medical health officer also recommends avoiding touching your eyes, face, or mask to avoid potential virus contamination.

Everyone should also be practicing regular handwashing and using hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of 60 per cent or higher.

Hayano also urges people to stay home if they feel at all unwell to keep everyone safe during the pandemic.

“We want people in that situation staying home, we don’t want them going out just wearing a mask. The best protection there is to stay home so you’re not in contact with anybody,” she said.

“The mask is not a substitution for staying home if you are feeling ill.”