HPPH issues instructions on use of face coverings in indoor commercial and public spaces

Dr. Miriam Klassen, Medical Officer of Health, has released formal Instructions to employers in Huron and Perth counties regarding the use of face coverings in indoor commercial and public space.

The Instructions, along with FAQs, are available at www.hpph.ca/masks. Huron Perth Public Health is providing support (such as sample policy, posters, discussion guide and more) to owner/operators of commercial and public spaces to implement these instructions.

These Instructions require owners/operators of these spaces to implement a policy for the use of masks or face coverings; including the expectation that people entering or remaining in an indoor commercial or public space will wear a face covering.

Indoor commercial and public space means the indoor portions of any premises that are openly accessible to members of the public and that are used for the purposes of offering goods or services to members of the public.

A face covering means a medical or non-medical mask or other face coverings such as a bandana, a scarf or cloth that covers the mouth and nose.

The Instructions ask owners/operators to ensure that employees wear a face covering when they are in the public space of the business without a suitable barrier such as plexiglass.

For visitors or customers, owners/operators are required to make best efforts to require people entering or remaining in their premises to wear a face covering if they can.

Best efforts include having a policy that requests people entering or staying in the premises to wear a face covering as well as posting signage and training employees on the policy. There are exemptions for those who cannot wear a mask. Operators should not ask for proof of exemption, and are not required to turn a customer away.

“This policy is being enacted and enforced ‘in good faith’,” says Dr. Klassen. “Owners and operators are to use the policy as a means to educate people on face covering use in enclosed spaces.”

These Instructions come into effect Friday, July 17; HPPH asks for patience and understanding from the public as operators implement their policies.

Efforts are underway, in collaboration with our community partners, to make cloth masks more available.

The Instructions are being issued by the Medical Officer of Health under the authority of the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

“These additional Instructions for indoor commercial and public spaces build upon the diligent work many are already doing to ensure physical distancing and hand sanitizers,” says Dr. Klassen. “Face coverings are extra protection to prevent COVID-19 spread.”

“In a few days, Huron-Perth will enter Stage 3. With the increased openings and larger groups allowed, there will be more interactions between more people; the risk of virus spread is increased. Normalizing the use of masks helps reduce this risk and helps keep businesses and services up and running. We ask everyone to be kind and understanding when others can’t wear masks, and to physically distance from them.”

The instructions will also remind employers of their ongoing responsibilities to maintain two metres distance between employees and clients, to screen employees and members of the public for COVID-19 symptoms, and to promote excellent hygiene practices including handwashing.

For more information:
On the Instructions and the proper use of face coverings: www.hpph.ca/masks
On COVID-19 response in Huron-Perth: www.hpph.ca/coronavirus