The local Health Unit is clarifying its instructions about mandatory mask wearing in commercial premises — a policy that takes effect July 13. Commercial establishments are premises that are openly accessible to members of the public and used for the purposes of offering goods or services for sale.
An establishment would include a mall or other structure containing commercial premises, including: retail stores, convenience stores, restaurants, personal services settings, grocery stores and bakeries, gas stations, indoor farmers’ markets, areas of mechanics’ shops/garages/repair shops which are open to the public.
The areas of a commercial establishment that are subject to the non-medical mask and face covering requirements are:
- Any areas in which customers interact with one another or with staff members, or
- Any areas that are open or accessible to members of the public
- Except where: The area is outside, whether or not the area is covered (such as a restaurant patio)
The requirement does not apply to establishments that do not fall under the definition of a commercial establishment, such as: schools, child care centres, business offices that are not open to members of the public.
Wearing a mask is about protecting other people and reduces the likelihood that someone could unknowingly spread the virus to another person. All members of the public who are able to wear a mask are asked to do so. Exceptions include:
- A child under the age of two years; or a child under the age of 5 years either chronologically or developmentally and he or she refuses to wear a face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver;
- A person is incapacitated and unable to remove their mask without assistance;
- For any other medical reason, the person cannot safely wear a non-medical mask or face covering such as, but not limited to, respiratory disease, cognitive difficulties or difficulties in hearing or processing information.
- For any religious reason, the person cannot wear a non-medical mask or face covering or cannot cover the face in a manner that would properly control the source.
This requirement is consistent with many areas across the province including surrounding areas of Durham Region and the City of Toronto.
“Wearing a mask has always been about protecting others. This is a precautionary step and not a reaction to an immediate threat or concern for our area. This will be another new challenge for our local businesses to adapt to. I ask for everyone’s patience, respect and support as we all navigate through this together. Please do your part by educating yourself on the importance of wearing a mask indoors and staying safe,” commented Mayor Letham.
Every owner/operator of a commercial establishment will have a policy to ensure that no member of the public is permitted to enter or remain in the public areas of the enclosed public space unless they are wearing a mask in a manner that securely covers their nose, mouth and chin.
Employees and operators will provide a verbal reminder to any customer entering the premises without a mask that the customer should be wearing a mask as a result of this directive.
Public Health Inspectors from the HKPR District Health Unit, as well as municipal bylaw and local police officers will be involved in providing additional education and enforcement to operators of commercial establishments.