A surgical/procedure mask is not a respirator. It is an approved (e.g. ASTM standard F2100), loose-fitting, disposable device that creates an effective physical barrier. It is intended to prevent droplets from an infected source from contaminating the skin and mucous membranes of the nose and mouth of the wearer. These masks can be worn by people infected with the COVID-19 virus to trap droplets expelled when coughing or sneezing. Healthcare workers routinely use surgical masks as part of their PPE requirements.
N95 respirators are an approved (e.g. NIOSH) air-purifying, particulate-filtering, disposable, half-face piece respirator. These devices are designed to protect users from inhaling hazardous airborne particles and aerosols, including dusts and infection agents such as the COVID-19 virus. The protective devices are common protective in health care settings and require initial and ongoing training, as well as an approved method for fit-testing to ensure a tight facial seal. Without this training and fit-testing, they may not be effectively protect against the COVID-19 virus.
A list of authorized medical devices including surgical/procedure masks and N95 respirators is available from the Government of Canada.
Left: Surgical/procedure mask. Right: N95 respirator