EDMONTON -- Face shields and goggles are no longer just an added protection, but a necessary one, for frontline workers, says Alberta Health Services.

A memo sent out Wednesday updates AHS’ personal protective equipment to include continuous eye protection for all frontline workers who work directly with patients.

The agency defines that as working face-to-face within two metres.

Face shields, goggles and safety glasses are all sufficient.

An AHS spokesperson told CTV News Edmonton the change was made to align its guidance with that of the Public Health Agency of Canada, and informed by months of learned experience.

“Throughout the last nine months, AHS has been quarantining large numbers of healthcare workers who have been potentially exposed at work, even though the majority of these individuals do not develop COVID-19,” Kerry Williamson explained.

He said the mask-goggles combo is considered appropriate protection for staff working closely with COVID-19 patients and eliminates risk of virus spread.

“By adding in continuous eye protection to our PPE Guidance, we can ensure our staff are protected, while avoiding staff quarantine after caring for patients who may have unrecognized COVID-19 infection at the time of the interaction.”

AHS is supplying workers with eye protection, although employees may be allowed to bring their own approved equipment.

It has a team dedicated to monitoring the amount of PPE supplies AHS has, calculating usage rates, and placing orders.

AHS says like its current guidelines for continuous masking, goggles can be worn during work with multiple patients, but should be changed according to infection control and prevention orders.