Masks mandatory in Tri-County area starting Tuesday
Masks will be mandatory in all indoor public spaces in the Tri-County area starting Tuesday.
Dr. Paula Stewart, Medical Officer of Health for Leeds, Grenville and Lanark, was one of four top health officials in Eastern Ontario to make the announcement Monday, along with officials from the City of Ottawa, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and Renfrew County.
The order means all businesses and indoor spaces offering services will adapt a mask policy for patrons, which requires a mask that covers their nose, mouth and chin.
Stewart said it will be up to businesses to enforce the rules and train staff on issues surrounding masks and physical distancing.
"It's not complicated, it builds on what many businesses in our area are already doing," she said.
"They need to have a sign that tells people that face coverings, mask are required, and they need to make sure the people that worked there are trained in it, so they can politely go up to people who aren't wearing it and say it's needed."
The spaces and businesses included in the order are:
- Restaurants, cafés, cafeterias, banquet halls;
- Retail establishments and shopping malls;
- Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, or other places of worship;
- Libraries, museums, art galleries, recreational facilities, bingo halls, community centres and halls, cinemas, theatres, concert venues, special event venues, convention centers, or other similar entertainment, cultural, or leisure facilities;
- Sports facilities, sports clubs, gyms, yoga studios, dance studios, and stadiums;
- Common areas of hotels, motels, or short-term rental premises such as lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms, rest rooms, laundry rooms, gyms, and kitchens;
- Private transportation for hire, including taxis, limousines and rideshare services
- Common areas of premises under the control of a regulated health professional under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 18, as amended, such as waiting rooms;
- Common areas of hospitals and independent health facilities such as lobbies, food courts and retail establishments; and
- Spas, hair salons, barbers, nail salons, and other personal service settings that are subject to health and safety protocols provided by the Province of Ontario during the provincial emergency.
Schools, childcare centres and daycares are not included in the order, as they are not considered an 'enclosed space.'
There are exemptions to wearing masks, including medical exemptions for those with breathing problems, children under two-years-old, those with a disability or an employee who is already behind a physical barrier. No one will be asked for proof of an exemption.
When it comes to enforcement, it will be done in "good faith," according to the written order, with a focus on education rather than fines.