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Don’t get mad at cashiers over mandatory masks: Ottawa Public Health

A couple wear masks while out for a walk in downtown Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday, May 1, 2020.
A couple wear masks while out for a walk in downtown Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday, May 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Ottawa’s public health unit is encouraging anyone upset with the recent order making masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces to take their issues up with them — not the workers on the front lines.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) joined three other health units in the Champlain region earlier this week to announce that anyone going grocery shopping or partaking in any other indoor public activity would need to wear a mask starting Tuesday — the latest effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

OPH told Global News it had not received any formal complaints about the mask rule since it was put into action, but said it has been following the response to the order on social media.

Read more: Ontario business owners on their own when it comes to mask bylaw enforcement

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A few posts on Twitter and the r/Ottawa subreddit have called out combative behaviour towards front-line service workers in grocery stores and other businesses. These accounts include some customers yelling at cashiers when reminded about the mandatory mask order.

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OPH addressed the people behind these purported incidents on Twitter Wednesday morning.

“We understand some of you are upset, but please direct your feedback towards us & not at businesses/employees,” the tweet read.

“Like masks, civility & respect are needed in public places.”

The mandatory mask policy is meant to be enforced in “good faith,” according to OPH. A 10-day grace period has been in effect since the policy began in an effort to educate patrons rather than penalize.

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Ottawa city council is expected to approve a temporary bylaw on July 15 that would give local bylaw officers flexibility in handing out warnings and fines for anyone not wearing a mask in enclosed public settings.

Children under the age of two and anyone with a medical exemption is not required to wear a mask.

Click to play video 'Should masks become mandatory in public spaces across the country?' Should masks become mandatory in public spaces across the country?
Should masks become mandatory in public spaces across the country?