HKPR District Health Unit Issues Requirement for Mask Use in Commercial Establishments

In Community, Local

Under instructions issued by the local Medical Officer of Health, area businesses will have to have a policy in place that requires people to wear a non-medical mask or face covering before entering their commercial establishment.

Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, Medical Officer of Health (MOH) for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit today issued instructions to the owners and operators of commercial establishments currently open during Stage 2 of the province’s reopening. The instructions have been issued under the authority of Ontario Regulation 263/20 under the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA).

“Although we have seen a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in our area, we want to be sure we continue to see a decrease as we move towards the reopening of more businesses within the province,” says Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, Medical Officer of Health for the HKPR District Health Unit. “We need to do everything we can to avoid the chance of a resurgence in activity that we have seen in some other places.”

The requirement for non-medical mask or face covering use within local businesses will come into effect at 12:01 am July 13, 2020. The use of masks will be required while the provincial Emergency Order remains in force or until such time that the MOH lifts the requirement.

Under the Health Unit’s instructions, 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.

Wearing a mask is about protecting other people, Dr. Noseworthy says, and reduces the likelihood that someone could unknowingly spread the virus to another person.

“Provincially, we have seen a number of asymptomatic cases,” she says. “This is just another step in doing what we can to protect our family, friends and neighbours in our communities.”

The policy of the commercial establishment should be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and should be used as an opportunity to educate about the use of non-medical masks or face coverings in indoor commercial establishments. Additional education and enforcement will be conducted by Health Unit staff, as well as local municipal bylaw and police officers.

There are exemptions to the policy and a person will be exempt from wearing a non-medical mask or face covering in the premises if: • The person is 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; • The 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.

In issuing the instructions to commercial establishments, HKPR District Health Unit is joining a growing list of health units across the province that is requiring non-medical mask or face covering use in public spaces.

For more information about the instructions requiring non-medical mask use or face coverings, visit the Health Unit’s website at www.hkpr.on.ca or call toll-free at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020.

 

Required Use of Non-Medical Masks and Face Coverings within Commercial Establishments
Under what authority are these instructions being issued?

These instructions are being issued by the Medical Officer of Health for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) under the authority of Ontario Regulation 263/20 – Stage 2 Closures s.4(2) of the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA).

What are the instructions?

Owners and operators of commercial establishments currently operating during Stage 2 will be required to have policies in place to stop people from entering the establishment if they are not wearing a non-medical mask or face covering.

Why are these instructions being issued?

These instructions are being issued to ensure the public health recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario and the HKPR Medical Officer of Health are being followed in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 within Northumberland and Haliburton counties, and the City of Kawartha Lakes. These instructions reinforce the requirements that all persons responsible for a business or organization permitted to open per the EMCPA Ontario Regulation 263/20 – Stage 2 Closures (or current) shall operate the business or organization in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials.

Why are these instructions being issued now?

While cases of COVID-19 are currently decreasing in the HKPR region, the risk for the ongoing spread of COVID-19 remains as the re-opening process continues across Northumberland and Haliburton counties and the City of Kawartha Lakes. The use of non-medical masks or face coverings in commercial establishments is an additional public health measure (along with physical distancing, hand and cough hygiene, and staying home when sick) that may prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the community.
#InThisTogether Visit www.hkpr.on.ca For more info call 1-866-888-4577 ext. 5020

When are these instructions in effect? How long must people comply with these instructions?

Instructions for masking are effective 12:01 a.m. Monday, July 13, 2020. Non-medical masks or face coverings will be required in commercial establishments currently operating during Stage 2 while the provincial Emergency Orders remain in force or until such time as these instructions are discontinued by the local Medical Officer of Health.

How is this being enforced?

HKPR District Health Unit will be taking a progressive enforcement approach to ensure compliance, with a focus on education. The focus will be to educate people on the use of non-medical masks or face coverings in premises where physical distancing may be difficult. As per the EMCPA, businesses that do not comply with the requirements may be fined.

What is a commercial establishment? Which ones are included in the instructions?

Commercial establishments are premises that are openly accessible to members of the public and are used for the purposes of offering goods or services for sale to members of the public and include a mall or other structure containing commercial premises, and currently include the following:
Retail stores, convenience stores, malls/plazas, restaurants, personal service 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 (e.g. a restaurant patio) #InThisTogether Visit www.hkpr.on.ca For more info call 1-866-888-4577 ext. 5020

What establishments are NOT included in the instructions?

Establishments that do not fall under the definition of a commercial establishment are:
Schools, child care centres, business offices that are not open to members of the public, professional offices where clients receive purchased services (e.g., lawyers’ offices) that are not open to members of the public, hospitals, independent health facilities, offices of regulated health professionals.

Who is exempt from wearing a non-medical mask or face covering in a commercial establishment?

A person is exempt from wearing a non-medical mask or face covering on the premises if:

• The person is a child under the age of two years; or a child under the age of five 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;

• The person is 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.

Note – A person means any customer, patron, employee or visitor, who enters the premises.
More Information If you have questions about these instructions for commercial establishments, please call the HKPR District Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 ext. 5020

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

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