After a flurry of expiration concerns over the marked dates on KN95 mask boxes, the province says the masks they are giving out are safe to use.

On Wednesday afternoon, Manitoba's Minister of Central Services Reg Helwer announced on Twitter that the province will be giving out free KN95 masks at Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries liquor marts and casinos in the coming days.

"Manitobans can ask for and receive a box of masks at no cost from any Manitoba Liquor Mart in Winnipeg or one of the MBLL-operated casinos, liquor marts and liquor vendors across Manitoba after Christmas," the province says in a statement Thursday.

The province says 500,000 masks, less than two per cent of the province's designated free boxes, have been given out. Many liquor stores have run out of boxes less than 24 hours after the announcement. In total, 1.4 million boxes will be given out until January 2. 

"The province will be announcing further distribution methods for individuals that do not wish to attend any of the MBLL locations.," the province says in a statement.

Manitobans raced to their local shops to get a box, only to open them up and find them months past their written expiration date.


Manitobans opening their boxes found inside, written on a slip of paper, that the masks were manufactured in May of 2020, with the note saying they have a period of validity for one year.

Helwer says Thursday morning that it was a misprint.

"The province has heard your concerns about expiration dates on the masks and we want to assure you that the manufacture has stated that all KN95 masks are good for three years after the production or manufacture date. The box had a printing error which states one year," he tweets.