St. Catharines mandatory mask by-law will take effect Friday

counmcil

St. Catharines council has passed a by-law making it mandatory to wear a mask in enclosed spaces where physical distancing is not possible.

The by-law passed unanimously after a lengthy discussion with Niagara Region's Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji, where Hirji explained the science behind how masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 when physical distancing is impossible.

When asked how the by-law will be enforced, the city says it is up to individual businesses to enforce the policy, or choose not to.

From the bylaw:

These measures are directed at the
operators of enclosed public spaces who are required to adopt a policy that prohibits
persons to enter or otherwise remain in the enclosed public space unless that person is
wearing a mask, subject to exemptions for specific individuals.
The operator is not required to enforce the policy or to refuse entry to anyone without a
mask; however, they are empowered by the bylaw to do so. Without a bylaw in place
some private businesses have already implemented some form of mask policy for their
establishments. 

Mayor Walter Sendzik says this does not allow businesses to 'opt out.' "We were looking at that clause last night. It's really designed around issues related to the wearing of masks and the inability of some folks not being able to wear masks. Businesses have the discretion of looking at an individual and - do you have to have your staff approach the individual and talk to them about wearing a mask? If they say it's for a medical reason you just continue to let them go in, but our expectation is compliance will be through the businesses. And we understand this is a challenging time for a lot of businesses. We didn't want to put an extra burden on them, but we also can't afford to go back to Stage 1."

Businesses will also be required to provide hand sanitizer to customers upon entry. 

The new by-law will go into effect Friday July 17th. 

 

Children 10 years of age or younger will not be required to wear a mask. Initially the motion had called for the exemption to apply to children 2 years old or younger, but Councillor Lori Littleton made an amendment during last night's meeting.

You can read the by-law on the city's website, or by clicking here.

Sendzik says city staff are working to have the by-law in place for Friday, but the focus will be on education to start.