Guelph’s health unit updates mandatory mask policy for Stage 3 of reopening

Municipalities face struggles mandating face masks
WATCH: Wearing face masks continues to be a popular way to help control the spread of the novel coronavirus, and more municipalities are making masks mandatory.

Guelph’s public health unit has updated a mandatory mask policy as the city is expected to move into Stage 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan on Friday.

The order, which also covers Wellington and Dufferin counties, was issued on June 10 and prevents businesses from allowing anyone inside who are not wearing some sort of cloth face-covering that covers the nose, mouth and chin.

Read more: What you can and cannot do in Ontario amid Stage 3 of reopening

While the order will continue into Stage 3, it will have some updated language for when a mask is not required.

“Persons must wear their face covering inside the establishment at all times unless it is reasonably required to temporarily remove the face covering for services provided by the establishment,” the order states.

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For example, masks are required inside restaurants and bars, but not while customers are eating or drinking. Same goes for movie theatres, but again, not while viewers are eating or drinking in their seats.

Masks are also required inside gyms, fitness centres and recreation centres, but not while exercising and they are not required while participating in an activity that would cause them to get wet.

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“Safely reopening our economy is an important step,” said medical officer of health Dr. Nicola Mercer. “As we reopen, we must remain vigilant for any increases in cases and each do our part to prevent any spread of COVID-19.”

There are exemptions from wearing a face mask outlined in the order, such as for health reasons and for children under 5 years old.

Bill Nye the Science Guy on the importance of wearing a face mask
Bill Nye the Science Guy on the importance of wearing a face mask

Businesses are not allowed to ask for proof that people qualify for the exemptions under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

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

The entire order, which also breaks down where a mask is and isn’t required, can be found on public health’s website.

“Moving into Stage 3 is a positive sign that we are making progress. But it doesn’t mean the pandemic is over,” Mercer said. “We must continue to balance health protection with economic progress in order to continue moving forward together.”

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