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New COVID-19 order issued for stores, malls in Waterloo Region

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Waterloo Region’s top doctor issued a new COVID-19 order on Wednesday requiring shopping mall and retail store owner and operator to make sure that capacity is managed and actively monitored.

“I wish to acknowledge the hard work of owners and operators and the measures they have implemented to protect our community,” Waterloo Region medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said in a statement.

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“This order works to further limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect shoppers and employees in these settings vulnerable to overcrowding.”

The region says there is an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission in close contact environments where persons are within two metres distance and/or not wearing face coverings.

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It notes that shopping malls and retail stores are known to be overcrowded during the holidays although it does not explain why the order was issued on Wednesday.

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In the order, Wang says, “the requirements specified in this Order are necessary in order to decrease or eliminate the risk to health presented by the communicable disease.”

Read more: 57 more positive COVID-19 tests in Waterloo Region, active cases at 385

The order will come into effect on Friday at 12:01 a.m.

It will require shopping malls and retail stores set maximum capacity limits which would allow people to maintain proper physical distancing.

Wang told Global News the order was put in place to build on the requirements already put in place by the province.

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“While the provincial framework puts in place significant restrictions in multiple settings, I felt it was important to build on those requirements to ensure that the fundamental principle of physical distancing can be followed in all retail stores and malls in order to protect patrons and staff, especially during the holiday shopping season,” she said in an emailed statement.

“This is for the protection of our community.”