If it’s the regular surgical face or dust mask, the answer is NO, based on infectious disease specialists at the University of Toronto.

It requires a specific type of respirator mask known in North America as the N95 mask. Similar certified versions have slight variations in the name such as the KN95 in China and FFP2 in Europe. These masks are specifically designed to tightly fit around your nose and cheeks which help keep out viral particles.

According to the CDC, people sick or caring for those sick with viruses such as COVID-19 should wear these respirator masks to reduce the risk of infection to people around them. The biggest reason the CDC recommends against the general public wearing them is for 2 reasons:

  1. If too many people unnecessarily stockpile respirators, a shortage could put the health of medical workers and those who need them at risk
  2. It takes special training on how to properly fit these respirators around the nose, cheeks and chin, ensuring that wearers don't breathe around the edges of the respirator

If you are someone who is worried about contracting or spreading a virus, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to wear one when going to your local grocery store or pharmacy. It is just recommended you do not stockpile them and ensure you learn how to properly fit them on your face. You can see a tutorial here on how to do it: How to properly fit a respiratory mask