Mandatory Mask Wearing Protocols
Update Regarding Mandatory Mask Wearing Protocols
Yesterday Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of Health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, announced that as of Monday July 13 business owners must do the following:
“Have a policy in place to restrict persons from entering or remaining in the indoor public space of the business or organization or public transit vehicle if the said person is not wearing a face covering. Best efforts shall be made to only allow entry to customers wearing a face covering. The face covering must be worn inside the business or organization at all times, unless it is reasonably required to temporarily remove the face covering for services provided by the business or organization (such as eating or drinking).”
Businesses must also “post appropriate visible signage indicating that face coverings are required inside the business or organization,” and ensure that “all employees are aware of the policy and are trained on the expectations of your business or organization.” Sample signage can be found on the COVID-19 workplace section of the SMDHU website.
An indoor public space is defined as “any areas within the business or organization that are open or accessible to members of the public and not exclusively to employees/employers only.” Examples may include, but are not limited to, indoor dining areas of a restaurant, an indoor farmers’ market, indoor food court areas of a mall, indoor retail locations and indoor areas of a mechanic’s shop which are open to the public.
Best Efforts when restricting entry to customers not wearing face coverings are defined as “a verbal reminder that the customer should be wearing a face covering as a result of these instructions shall be given to any customer entering businesses or organizations without one. For greater clarity, there is not a need for a business to turn away the customer to achieve the best effort standard. For customers in a premises seen removing their face covering for extended periods of time, a verbal reminder to the customer of the requirement to wear face coverings under these instructions is recommended.”
Gardner further states that the policy should be enacted in good faith and should be used as a means to educate people on mask use where physical distancing can be a challenge. The announcement states that “under good faith there is no need for a business to turn away the customer to achieve the best effort standard—this is the decision of the business, understanding that COVID-19 resurgence will impact the health of individuals and our economy.”
As for employees and staff, unless they are behind a barrier consisting of a solid surface such as Plexiglass that forms a “complete barrier” between employees and the public, face coverings will be required by staff providing service to the public.
It is important to note that face shields (clear plastic coverings to protect the eyes and possibly the lower part of the face) are not an acceptable alternative to a face covering. It is also important to recognize that all other recommended safety practices are still in effect, such as physical distancing and frequent hand washing.
Finally, it is stated that: “It is important to know that while we will commence with an educational and supportive approach, as per the EMCPA, those who do not comply with the above noted requirements may be fined. Individuals may be liable for a fine of $750 -$1,000 up to a maximum of $100,000, while corporations may be liable for a fine of up to $10,000,000 for each day or part of each day on which the offence occurs or continues.”
We recognize that this order can be complicated, but we are giving you the exact language so you are aware of precisely what is expected of businesses starting July 13. For further details including those who are exempt from wearing face coverings and the official list of businesses expected to follow this new mandate can be found in Dr. Gardner’s letter to businesses. You can also find more information on the Health Unit’s website.
In this time we need to work together as much as possible to enable Huntsville and Lake of Bays to weather this situation and to position ourselves as the tourism leader once we are able to re-open our businesses and services to the public. If you have questions or need help finding the appropriate resources to assist you or your business, please reach out to us at the following address: [email protected]
From all of us at the Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce team we urge you to stay safe and promise to do everything in our power to assist you in this difficult time.