CORNWALL, Ontario – Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Chief Medical Officer of Health with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) announced that on Tuesday, July 7, facemasks would become mandatory.
Dr. Roumeliotis made the announcement in a joint conference call with the health units of Ottawa, Leeds-Grenville and Renfrew on Monday, July 6.
The directive is being made by the Eastern Ontario Health Officers through the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, (EMPCA) which was implemented by Premier Doug Ford in march in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the new directive, masks will be mandatory in enclosed public spaces. According to a press release from the EOHU, businesses and non-profits responsible for the enclosed space will be responsible for the adherence to all health unit directives.
Businesses will be required to have a mask policy and public signage.
“The pandemic is not over. We are still seeing hundreds of thousands of cases worldwide, especially in places that opened too soon,” Dr. Roumeliotis explained.
Dr. Roumeliotis explained that most of Ontario had already implemented mandatory masks and why it was important to implement this directive in a regional way.
We are close to each other,” he said. “We have tourists coming back and forth, and it is appropriate that we have a unified approach to that.”
There will be a one-week grace period for those unaware or who refuse to comply with the directive. The grace period will end on July 14.
“If I wear a mask, I protect you. If you wear a mask, you protect me. If we all wear masks, we all protect each other,” said Dr. Roumeliotis. “We want to quell or decrease as much as possible a second wave. We’ve done a good job. Let’s continue doing a good job.”
The Health Units acknowledged that some people are not able to wear masks. Some exemptions to the directive are those under the age of two, those with difficulty breathing, and those who cannot remove a mask on their own.
Faceshields are not considered to be masks under the new regulation, but could be used as an alternative for those who have an exemption from wearing masks.
Dr. Roumeliotis explained the enforcement of this new mandatory mask directive. He explained that fines are possible between $500 to $800.
“Whether we go after someone or fine someone will be a case by case basis, but our first step is to foster an educational approach,” he said.
The EOHU provided the following list of enclosed public spaces.
These include but are not limited to:
- 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
- Public and private transportation including taxis 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
- 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
- Municipal public spaces
The following are NOT considered an “Enclosed Public Space”:
- Spaces subject to provincial and/or local public health guidance:
- Schools under the Education Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.2, as amended
- Child care centres and providers governed by the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, S.O. 2014, c. 11, as amended
- Day camps
- Offices not open to the public including professional offices where clients receive services not open to public (e.g. lawyer, accountant)