On July 30th Southwestern Public Health issued a letter of instruction for all businesses in Oxford County, Elgin County and St. Thomas to mandate face coverings in enclosed public spaces. The policy is fully in effect as of today, August 6th.

All commercial establishments, public transit, and commercial service vehicles are instructed to implement two policies: one that requires everyone to wear face coverings while in enclosed public spaces, and a second for public health measures in enclosed employee spaces that are not accessible to the public. This second policy focuses on physical distancing, face coverings when physical distancing is not possible, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, and requiring staff who are sick to stay home while advising they be tested for COVID-19.

When it comes to enforcement, Southwestern Public Health and its municipal partners will take an education-first approach. However, individuals and corporations that do not comply could face fines.

“Our hope is the community will share the responsibility of containing COVID-19 by following these policies,” says Dr. Lock. “It is an incredibly caring act to wear a face covering because it protects other people from your germs. My mask protects you, and your mask protects me.”

Certain individuals are exempt from wearing a face covering, including children under 2 or children under 5 if they cannot be persuaded to wear one by a caregiver, people with health conditions that make it difficult to wear one, people in situations where a face covering would limit the ability to breathe (such as swimming), and people who cannot put on or remove a face covering without help.

Businesses cannot ask anyone for proof of exemption.

“Please be understanding if someone cannot wear a face covering due to health conditions,” says Dr. Lock, who adds face coverings
are not intended to replace physical distancing.

The letter of instruction will remain in effect until further notice. Learn more at www.swpublichealth.ca/WorkplacesCOVID19.

Filed under: covid, elgin, oxford, st thomas