By Sue Tiffin
Face masks are now mandatory in businesses in Haliburton County according to instructions issued by the medical officer of health of the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit.
“Owners and operators of commercial establishments … 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” reads part of the announcement noting the instructions for masking are effective Monday July 13 while the provincial emergency orders remain in force or until the instructions are discontinued by the local medical officer of health.
When the region moves to Stage 3 on July 17 masks will remain mandatory the health unit confirmed on Monday.
“The health unit’s instruction on mask use in commercial establishments doesn’t change as we move to Stage 3. In fact it’s more relevant than ever” Bill Eekhof communications officer for HKPR District Health Unit said.
“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. We need to do everything we can to avoid the chance of a resurgence in activity that we have seen in some other places. And wearing non-medical masks/face coverings in commercial establishments is one way of doing this along with continued handwashing physical distancing and staying home if sick.”
Commercial establishments that are open to the public and used for the purposes of offering goods or services for sale including retail stores convenience stores restaurants personal services settings grocery stores and bakeries gas stations indoor farmers’ markets and areas of mechanics’ shops/garages/repair shops which are open to the public are included in the instructions.
Wearing a mask protects other people reducing the chances that someone would unknowingly pass the virus on to others.
“Provincially we have seen a number of asymptomatic cases” said Dr. Lynn Noseworthy medical officer of health for HKPR in the release. “This is just another step in doing what we can to protect our family friends and neighbours in our communities.”
The release said the policy of commercial establishments 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.”
Exemptions for mask-wearing within commercial establishments include children under two those with developmental disabilities who refuse to wear a mask people who are incapacitated or unable to remove a mask without assistance or for other religious or medical reasons including respiratory disease cognitive difficulties or difficulties in hearing or processing information.
More information can be found at: www.hkpr.on.ca or call toll-free at 1-866-888-4577 ext. 5020.
With files from Jenn Watt