Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer has issued an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act that requires anyone going into any commercial establishment must wear a face covering.
It includes all commercial establishments that provide goods and services, including grocery stores and large retail stores.
Exceptions are children under two years of age, people whose ability to breathe would be inhibited in any way or other medical reasons.
The rule does not apply to outdoor commercial areas such as patios, Williamson said.
Establishments not in compliance face a fine of up to $5,000.
Employees are included in the order.
The new rules go into effect Friday, tying in with Stage 2 of reopening announced by the province that will see several types of businesses and services allowed to reopen under certain restrictions.
A face covering means a medical mask or a non-medical mask or other face coverings such as a bandana, a scarf or cloth that covers the mouth, nose and chin ensuring a barrier that limits the transmission of infectious respiratory droplets.
The City of Guelph and County of Wellington both expressed support with the move.
"The face covering must be worn inside the establishment at all times, unless it is reasonably required to temporarily remove the face covering for services provided by the establishment," says the order.
Commercial establishments must also provide alcohol-based hand rub at all entrances and exits.
Public Health spokesperson Danny Williamson said in an interview that Public Health will not be providing face coverings but there is a wide range of what qualifies as a face covering.
“Moving our region to Phase 2 is an important next step,” said Dr. Mercer in a news release. “As we move to reopen, we must always look to balance the economic needs of our region with the health and safety of the public.
“The best available evidence indicates face coverings reduce the possibility of transmission of COVID-19,” said Dr. Mercer. “By ensuring we can move to Phase 2 in the safest way possible, we are all making an investment in a safer community.”
The order notes that
- COVID-19 is transmitted from person-to-person predominantly through respiratory droplets that are released from the nose and mouth, through contact with contaminated surfaces, and through poor hand hygiene.
- COVID-19 may be transmitted from persons who have minimal or no signs or symptoms of illness.
Accumulating epidemiological evidence indicates that the widespread use of Face Coverings by all persons decreases spread of respiratory droplets, and expert opinion supports the widespread use of Face Coverings to decrease transmission of COVID-19.
Use of Face Coverings is recommended by the Chief Medical Officer of Health of Ontario and the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada in situations where physical distancing (spatial separation of individuals by at least two metres) is difficult to maintain.
Re-opening of Commercial Establishments will increase the frequency of contact and limit opportunities for physical distancing between persons in the jurisdiction of the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit which, absent adequate preventative measures, will increase the number of cases of COVID-19 cases in the jurisdiction of the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit.
An increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 will increase disease transmission, potential for outbreaks in congregate settings, and the morbidity and mortality of COVID-19 within the population of the jurisdiction of the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit.