To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the wearing of masks has become mandatory in enclosed public spaces in Ottawa and area effective July 7, 2020. The public are also reminded to continue to wash your hands regularly and practise physical distancing.
Ottawa business owners will be responsible to ensure they have a face mask policy in place for themselves and staff to follow. A letter of instruction was released by Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health for Ottawa Public Health, outlining guidelines for donning masks in enclosed public spaces. Some of the locations under the policy umbrella would include, grocery stores, churches and places of worship, shopping malls, restaurants, retail outlets, theatres, art galleries, museums, recreation facilities and other community halls.
Dr. Etches has instructed all Operators of an Enclosed Public Space within the City of Ottawa to adopt a policy ensuring that no member of the public is permitted to enter or remain in the public enclosed areas unless a mask is worn in a manner that covers their nose, mouth and chin. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer must be available for public use upon entering and existing the establishment.
No person shall be required to provide proof of any of the exemptions outlined below:
- Children under two years of age, or children under the age of five years either chronologically or developmentally who refuse to wear a mask and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver;
- Individuals with medical conditions rendering them unable to safely wear a mask, including breathing difficulties or cognitive difficulties;
- Individuals who are unable to apply or remove a mask without assistance, including those who are accommodated under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) or who have protections under the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c.H.19, as amended;
- A person who is employed by or is an agent of the Operator of an Enclosed Public Space and in an area not deemed for public access or is within or behind a physical barrier.
The complete and final letter released by Dr. Vera Etches outlining the instructions for organizations can be found here. Non-compliance could see fines handed out ranging from $500 and $800.