COVID-19: Masks and Face Coverings

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On July 17, 2020, the Medical Officer of Health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit issued an "Instruction" to all businesses in Middlesex County and the City of London requiring that they ensure their staff and customers wear masks in all indoor spaces that are publicly accessible. 

Municipal Mask and Face Covering By-Law

To support the health unit's "Instruction," municipalities were asked to consider enacting a by-law.  In response, Middlesex Centre council adopted a by-law on July 22, 2020, to temporarily require the use of face coverings within enclosed publicly-accessible spaces and require the posting of signage by business operators.

This means, with some exceptions, all persons, including customers, visitors and staff, entering an enclosed public premise are required to wear a mask or face covering while inside.

Masks and face coverings include a medical or non-medical mask or face coverings such as a bandana, scarf, cloth or similar item that covers the nose, mouth and chin without gapping.

Wearing a mask or face covering is not an alternative to safe physical distancing. Every effort should be made to keep a two-metre (6 foot) distance even when wearing a mask. Wearing a face covering should always be combined with other health measures such proper hand washing or sanitizing, not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, and staying home if you are sick.
 

When is a face covering required?

In general, a mask or face covering is required in any indoor public setting.
 

When is a face covering not required?

Face coverings are not required in the following locations:

  • Outdoor spaces
  • Businesses or establishments that are not publicly accessible
  • Day cares, schools, post-secondary institutions, and other facilities used solely for educational purposes
  • Hospitals and portions of buildings used by regulated health professionals
  • Buildings owned or operated by the Province of Ontario or the Government of Canada
  • School transportation vehicles
  • Professional offices that are not open to the public and are open by appointment only (such as a lawyer or accountant office)
  • Portions of community centres, arenas or other buildings that are being used for the purpose of day camps for children or for the training of amateur or professional athletes
  • Within businesses or establishments, or by employees and staff, that meet any of the exemptions
  • Employees or staff at a business or establishment working behind a physical barrier (such as Plexiglas, a partition, screen or wall)
  • Indoor areas of buildings that are accessible to employees only


Who is exempt from wearing a mask or face covering under this by-law?

The following persons are exempt from the requirement to wear a mask or face covering:

  • children under 2 years of age under any circumstance
  • children under 12 years of age if not developmentally appropriate as determined by their caregiver
  • persons with an underlying medical condition which inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering
  • persons who are unable to place or remove a mask or face covering without assistance
  • a person engaged in a sport or other strenuous physical activity
  • employees and agents of the person responsible for the establishment within an area designated for them and not for public access, or within or behind a physical barrier
  • persons in an establishment requiring the temporary removal of a face covering where necessary for:
    • receiving services involving the face
    • consuming food or drink while seated and spaced a minimum of 2 metres apart from other tables in a restaurant
    • actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity
    • any emergency or medical purpose
  • persons who are reasonably accommodated by not wearing a mask or face covering in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code
     

Under the by-law, residents are not required to show exemption from wearing a mask before entering an enclosed public space.

Note that prior to this by-law, the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit issued an Order requiring  the use of masks on public transit, taxis, and ride share vehicle operators and personal care service establishments. Details can be found on the health unit's website


FAQs for Residents

What qualifies as a mask or face covering?
This can include a medical or non-medical mask or face covering such as a bandana, scarf, cloth or similar item that covers the nose, mouth and chin without gapping.


Do people need to show proof that they are exempt from the by-law?
No proof is required to show you are exempt from wearing a mask before entering an enclosed public space.


How will this by-law be enforced?
The Municipality of Middlesex Centre is taking a proactive education first approach to the by-law.  Municipal by-law enforcement officers will issue warnings when necessary. When a warning is not deemed sufficient or for repeat offenders, enforcement of the by-law can see fines of up to $500 per offence.


How do I report someone for not wearing a face covering?
If you have concerns about someone not wearing a face covering, please keep in mind that there are a number of exemptions to the by-law and there is no requirement for people to prove their condition or disability.

Many conditions are invisible: residents and business owners should take people at their word and be kind and respectful.

If anyone appears to be willfully contravening the by-law, residents should discuss the violation with the business operator first. After this, if residents wish to report that another resident or a local business is not in compliance with the by-law, they can do so using our online by-law complaint form or by calling 519-666-0190 ext. 242.
 

Do I still need to stay 2 meters away from others if I am wearing a face mask?
Yes. Wearing a mask is not an alternative to physical distancing. Every effort should be made to keep a 2-metre (6-foot) distance even when wearing a mask.
 

How long will this by-law be in effect?
This is intended to be a temporary by-law, until the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic is passed.  The by-law came into effect on July 22, 2020, and will remain in effect until such time the municipality receives notice from the Middlesex-London Health Unit that it is no longer required.
 

Where can I find additional information on health information or research on the importance of wearing a face covering or mask?
Please visit the Middlesex-London Health Unit for health-related information and how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
 

FAQs for Business Owners and Operators

What is my responsibility as a business owner?
Businesses and organizations that provide indoor services have a role to play in helping everyone comply with the new by-law. 

1) Operators are required to adopt a policy in support of the by-law. Business owners can download a sample policy here:

2) Operators of enclosed public spaces are required to post visible signs with specific messaging about the by-law that indicates the face covering requirement. Business owners can download a sign to print and display here (several options to choose from, please use the largest size possible): 

3) While not part of the municipal by-law, the health unit's instructions to business includes a requirement for having hand-sanitizer available. Please see the health unit's instructions to businesses below.

 

What kinds of establishments are included under the by-law?

Establishments include any of the following:

  • premises or any portion thereof which are used as a place of business for the sale or offering for sale of goods or services and includes a mall or similar structure which contains multiple places of business;
  • churches, temples, or other places of worship;
  • community centres including indoor recreational facilities;
  • libraries, art galleries, museums, aquariums, zoos and other similar facilities;
  • community service agencies providing services to the public;
  • banquet halls, convention centres, arenas, stadiums, and other event spaces;
  • premises utilized as an open house, presentation centre, or other facility for real estate purposes;
  • common areas of hotels, motels and other short-term rentals, such as lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms or other common use facilities;
  • concert venues, theatres, cinemas, and all other entertainment facilities; and,
  • municipal buildings. 
     

What if someone enters my business without a mask?
If a person arrives without a mask, operators must notify them of the mask requirement as soon as possible after they enter the premises.

If the client says they are exempt from the bylaw, they do not need to show proof and no further action is needed on behalf of the operator.

If a patron refuses to wear a mask and is not exempt from the by-law, a business operator may report the issue to the municipality for follow-up. This applies to patrons of businesses, and business employees as well.
 

What qualifies as a mask or face covering?
This can include a medical or non-medical mask or face covering such as a bandana, scarf, cloth or similar item that covers the nose, mouth and chin without gapping.
 

Can I require proof of exemption?
No. The by-law does not require people to provide proof of exemption.
 

Do employees need to wear a face covering in staff-only areas?
No. Employees or staff while in a staff-only area, or an area separated by a physical barrier (such as Plexiglas, a partition, screen or wall) are not required to wear a face covering.


(Content on this page created with thanks to the City of London.)