Non-medical masks, face coverings now mandatory within most public indoor spaces in Durham

As non-medical masks or face coverings are now mandatory within most public and enclosed indoor spaces in Durham Region, the health department has released the following fact sheet:

Under what authority are these instructions being issued?
These instructions are being issued by Durham Region’s Medical Officer of Health 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 Durham Region Medical Officer of Health are being followed in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 within Durham Region.
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 Durham Region, the risk for the ongoing spread of COVID-19 remains as the re-opening process continues across Durham Region. 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.

 When are these instructions in effect? How long must people comply with these instructions?
Instructions for masking are effective 12:01 a.m. Friday July 10, 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.

How is this being enforced?
Durham Region Health Department 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, both individuals and businesses who 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 such as a restaurant patio).

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;
– Wearing a non-medical mask or face covering would inhibit the person’s ability to breathe in any way;
– 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 Durham Health Connection Line at 905-668-2020 or 1-800-841-2729.

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