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Protocol for health standards in massage therapy

The Réseau collaborated with other massage therapy associations under the direction of Soins personnels Québec to create a protocol for health standards in massage therapy to support its members in the resumption of their activities. This protocol was developed to guide massage therapists in the best way possible in their return-to-work process and was drafted according to guidelines issued by the Institut National de Santé publique du Québec and the CNESST.

Please note that this protocol is based on the information available at the time of writing the recommendations. As the situation and knowledge about SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) is changing rapidly, the recommendations in this document are subject to change.

You can view and download the protocol in PDF format.

Last update : February 22, 2020

Protocol for health standards

Massage at home

If you need to travel to your clients’ homes to perform your treatment, here are our recommendations:

  • Inform yourself when you make your appointment and just before the massage with your client that no probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 is present in the house:
    • No symptoms related to COVID-19 (fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, unexplained muscle pain, breathing difficulties, flu-like symptoms, loss of sense of smell, diarrhea);
    • No travel outside the country in the last 14 days;
    • No persons awaiting a test result for COVID-19 or who have not received a positive test result in the last 14 days;
    • No contact with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
  • Make sure you have a 60%+ hydroalcoholic solution, Health Canada approved cleaning wipes or disinfectant products and the necessary personal protective equipment for your care.
  • Stay at a distance of 2 meters from any other person except the client during the massage.
  • Avoid touching furniture, switches, door handles, etc. if possible.
  • Please follow the protocol for massage therapy health standards.

Chair or table massage in company

If you perform chair or table massages in your company, here are our recommendations:

  • Make sure the company has preventive measures in place to reduce the spread of the virus;
  • Inform yourself when making an appointment and just before the massage that the workers who will receive a massage:
    • Have no symptoms related to COVID-19 (fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, unexplained muscle pain, breathing difficulties, flu-like symptoms, loss of sense of smell, diarrhea);
    • Have not travelled outside the country in the last 14 days;
    • Are not awaiting a test result for COVID-19 or have not received a positive test result in the past 14 days;
    • Have not been in contact with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
  • Make sure you have a 60%+ hydroalcoholic solution, Health Canada approved cleaning wipes or disinfectant products and the necessary personal protective equipment for your care.
  • Stay at a distance of 2 meters from any other person except the client during the massage.
  • Avoid touching furniture, switches, door handles, etc. if possible.
  • Please follow the massage therapy health standards protocol.

What is a procedure mask?

The procedure mask recommended for the practice of massage therapy is a level 1 disposable mask with a bacterial filtration rate of 95% or more according to the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). There are 3 classifications under the ASTM F2100 standard: level 1, 2 and 3. The N95 mask is not recommended for your practice; it is reserved for the medical field.

We recommend that you look for ASTM or FDA certifications when purchasing. You can consult the list of protective equipment suppliers available here.

Source: 3rd question – What are ASTM standards for medical face masks?, Primed.ca, [Online], consult on May 27, 2020.

Wearing of the procedure mask by the client

As of January 27, 2021, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) has made changes to the interim recommendations for therapeutic care sector in private practice. It now states that “when the client receives care, it is recommended that the client also wear a quality medical (procedure) mask, given his proximity to the worker for an extended period of time”1. The preferred procedure masks are those that meet the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) F2100 compliance criteria. Masks according to EN 14683 (type IIR) can also be used. To ensure mask compliance, it is recommended that the client be provided with a procedure mask upon arrival.

When can my clients remove their mask?

According to the latest update of the INSPQ’s interim recommendations for the therapeutic care sector in private practice, “in certain exceptional circumstances (for example, lying on his stomach on a massage table), the client may remove the mask”1. Given that the Public Health Department of the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux had already confirmed that the mask could be removed during the period of care that requires it, the guidelines therefore remain the same. The procedure mask can be removed when:

  • you massage the face;
  • the client is lying on his stomach.

We encourage you to continue to exercise your professional judgment to determine if the mask needs to be removed during certain maneuvers.

Who can be exempt from wearing the mask?

Some people are not required to wear the mask, such as:

  • ” children under the age of 10. However, wearing a mask or face covering is recommended for children between 2 and 9 years of age. It is not recommended for those under age 2;
  • people whose particular medical condition prevents them from wearing a mask or face covering:
    • people who are unable to put it on or take it off by themselves due to a physical disability,
    • people with facial deformities,
    • peoples who, due to cognitive impairment, an intellectual disability, an autism spectrum disorder, an addiction problem or a severe mental health problem, are unable to understand the requirement or for whom wearing a mask or face covering causes significant disorganization or distress,
    • people who have a severe skin condition on the face or ears that is significantly aggravated by wearing a mask or face covering. “2

” In addition, people with a chronic condition, including cardiovascular diseases and lung diseases, are not exempted from wearing a mask or face covering. Whenever possible, they should use a procedure mask, since it offers better protection against the virus. “2

To read the full information regarding the wearing of masks or face coverings required in enclosed public places, we invite you to visit the website of the government of Quebec.

[1] Free translation of Recommandations intérimaires concernant les soins thérapeutiques en cabinet privé
[2] Source: Wearing a mask or a face covering in public settings in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, government’s website