Health unit issues order requiring face coverings in commercial businesses

Businesses must also provide hand sanitizer to be used by all customers entering/exiting businesses

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The public health unit has issued an order requiring commercial businesses to make it mandatory for all customers and staff members to wear face coverings.

The order was announced on June 10 by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) in advance of the region entering phase two of the province’s reopening plan on June 12.

Stage two includes the reopening of restaurants and bars with outdoor dine-in services, barber shops and hair salons, shopping malls, splash pads and pools, and private campgrounds and other amenities.

The health unit’s order, later updated to include more details, can be viewed in its entirety by clicking here.

It does not apply to patios and other outdoor commercial areas.

“The best available evidence indicates face coverings reduce the possibility of transmission of COVID-19,” stated Dr. Nicola Mercer, WDGPH’s Medical Officer of Health, who notes in the order that asymptomatic people can transmit COVID-19.

“By ensuring we can move to phase two in the safest way possible, we are all making an investment in a safer community.”

Effective June 12, the order requires all owners/operators of commercial establishments in the WDGPH region to:

  • prohibit customers/staff members from entering or remaining in the establishment if they are not wearing a face covering; and
  • ensure the availability of alcohol-based hand sanitizer at all entrances and exits for the use of all customers entering/exiting.

Issued under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, the order defines a face covering as a medical or non-medical mask, bandana, scarf or cloth that covers the mouth, nose and chin.

The order stipulates that coverings must be worn at all times, “unless it is reasonably required to temporarily remove [it] for services provided.”

Customers are exempt from wearing a covering if they are under two years of age, their ability to breathe is inhibited in any way; or they have a medical condition.

“Moving our region to phase two is an important next step,” said Mercer.

“As we move to reopen, we must always look to balance the economic needs of our region with the health and safety of the public.”

Failure to comply with the WDGPH order can result in a fine of up to $5,000 “every day or part of each day” the offence occurs.

Wellington County has also enacted an emergency order, with the same provisions outlined by public health, that requires all businesses in the county to comply.

“We are asking everyone to do their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Wellington County,” said Warden Kelly Linton.

“If we all work together, we can keep each other safe.”

Revised order

On June 12 the health unit released a revised order that provides more specifics about which businesses are affected by the order and which part parts of commercial buildings are impacted.

The move was made “in response to feedback from the community at large and our many partners throughout the region,” notes an email sent by WDGPH communications specialist Danny Williamson.

Businesses impacted by the order include the following:

  • retail stores;
  • convenience stores;
  • malls/plazas;
  • restaurants;
  • personal service settings;
  • grocery stores and bakeries;
  • gas stations;
  • farmer’s markets (indoors); and
  • areas of mechanic shops/garages/repair shops which are open to the public.

Not subject to the order are areas of businesses not accessible to the public, as well as the following:

  • churches or faith settings;
  • day camps, day care centres, schools and libraries;
  • community centres;
  • offices that are not open to members of the public;
  • professional offices where clients receive purchased services (e.g. lawyer’s/accountant’s office) that are not open to members of the public;
  • private transportation (bus/taxi/limo) and public transportation (bus/train);
  • hospitals and independent health facilities; and
  • offices of regulated health professionals.

To view the full revised order, click here.