Brant County’s medical officer of health says the region’s health unit is “strongly considering” a recommendation for nearby municipalities to consider mandatory face coverings in public spaces.
In a regional pandemic update on Tuesday, Dr. Elizabeth Urbantke says a final decision will be made on Wednesday morning during an emergency operations centre (EOC) advisory committee meeting.
Urbantke said talk on the matter began weeks ago within the Brant County Health Unit (BCHU) after observing neighbouring communities beginning to implement their own mandatory face-covering bylaws and orders.
“We started discussing that a week to two weeks ago, ” Urbantke said. “This is the next step in a similar direction, but certainly, seeing others going in that direction, it’s been thought of all the time all along.”
Much like drafts put together by other Ontario city councils, the Brant County version will also likely include exemptions for children under the age of two, people with an underlying medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask, a person unable to put on or remove a face covering without assistance or employees and agents in non-public spaces or behind physical barriers.
Should the committee decide to proceed with the recommendation, municipal councils would then potentially begin drafting a bylaw for ratification votes within’ the county.
Mandatory face masks are now required in a number of Ontario municipalities as of Tuesday. Much of eastern Ontario, including Ottawa, came online Tuesday via a bylaw passed by its council, a week ago. Toronto, Peel Region, Guelph and Kingston are other regions now requiring masks in most closed spaces.
“It’s another tool in our toolbox to help protect our community and protect others,” said Urbantke.
Meanwhile, two people working for two different major retailers in Brant County have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Urbantke.
One is an employee at the Lowe’s store in Brantford at the 215 Henry Street location that notified managers of the positive test on Sunday. The employee last worked on June 30 and 14 employees were identified as “close contacts” and are asymptomatic and self-isolating.
“The nature of this employee’s duties did not have them interacting directly with customers in a manner that would be deemed high risk,” said Urbantke. “Anyone who visited the Lowe’s Brantford store between June 23 and 30 is encouraged to monitor for symptoms until July 14.”
BCHU say an employee at the Burford LCBO store southwest of Brantford also tested positive for the coronavirus and last worked at the store on July 4.
The health unit recommends anyone who visited the location recently and are concerned about exposure should reach out to the Brant community healthcare system to arrange for testing.
BCHU reported no new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. The region has 124 total confirmed cases as of July 7.
The county still has four deaths, with 118 total resolved cases. There are two COVID-19 patients currently in county hospitals.
There are no institutional outbreaks.
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