Beginning next week, face masks or coverings will be required for anyone entering a commercial establishment in Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s jurisdiction, to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
On Tuesday, Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, area medical officer of health, issued the instructions to business owners and operators. The policy, which goes into effect July 13, will require people to wear a non-medical mask or face covering when inside any businesses currently open in Stage 2 located in the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Haliburton County.
The health unit reported no new cases of coronavirus Tuesday, maintaining the overall cases to 202.
“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,” stated Noseworthy.
“We need to do everything we can to avoid the chance of a resurgence in activity that we have seen in some other places.”
The use of masks will be required while the provincial Emergency Order remains in force or until such time that Noseworthy lifts the new safety rule.
An establishment would include a mall or other structure containing commercial premises, namely: retail stores, convenience stores, restaurants, personal services settings, grocery stores and bakeries, gas stations, indoor farmers’ markets, areas of mechanics’ shops/garages/repair shops which are open to the public.
Noseworthy says wearing a mask is about protecting other people, and reduces the likelihood that someone could unknowingly spread the virus to another person.
“Provincially, we have seen a number of asymptomatic cases,” she said.
“This is just another step in doing what we can to protect our family, friends and neighbours in our communities.”
The health unit notes there can be exemptions to the mask-wearing policy, including:
- children under the age of 2 years;
- a child under the age of 5 years either chronologically or developmentally and he or she refuses to wear a face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver;
- a person who is incapacitated and unable to remove their mask without assistance;
- persons with other medical reasons who cannot safely wear a non-medical mask or face covering, such as, but not limited to: respiratory disease, cognitive difficulties or difficulties in hearing or processing information;
- persons with religious reasons, whereby the person cannot wear a non-medical mask or face covering or cannot cover the face in a manner that would properly control the source.
The health unit says it will be taking a progressive enforcement approach to ensure compliance, with a focus on education.
“The focus will be to educate people on the use of non-medical masks or face coverings in premises where physical distancing may be difficult. As per the EMCPA, businesses that do not comply with the requirements may be fined,” the health unit stated.
For more information about the instructions requiring non-medical mask use or face coverings, visit the health unit’s website or call at 1-866-888-4577 ext. 5020.