MONTREAL -- Surgical masks and other masks of "quality" are no longer mandatory for workers who are outdoors during periods of extreme heat, "even if the physical distance of one metre cannot be respected," the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) announced Monday.

The temporary exception will be valid when a heat warning is issued by Environment Canada. It will end when temperatures drop below 30 degrees Celsius.

"Due to summer heat waves and the risks associated with excessive heat, we have made the decision, in collaboration with the CNESST and public health authorities, to allow the removal of masks in the workplace," said Labour Minister Jean Boulet.

The CNESST defines a "quality" mask as either a medical mask, a mask certified by the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (BNQ) or a respiratory protection device equipped with a particle filter.

The CNESST is also reminding companies to allow employees to have more frequent breaks, as well as provide places and means for refreshment.

As of June 7, the CNESST no longer requires the wearing of masks in workplaces that are zoned yellow or green, indoors or outdoors, provided that there is a physical distance or a physical barrier.

It is still mandatory to wear a mask when a regulations not related to COVID-19 demands it, such as in the presence of asbestos or silica.

For the general public, officials still recommend masks or face coverings be worn by people of different bubbles unless they are physically separated by one metre or are involved in swimming or water sports.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Aug. 2, 2021.