Municipality of Thames Centre makes masks or face coverings mandatory in enclosed public spaces
Earlier today, Municipal Council passed a temporary by-law, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, requiring residents to wear a face covering or mask in all enclosed publicly-accessible spaces in Thames Centre. This is an additional health measure to reduce the risk of further COVID-19 infections as additional businesses and services begin to reopen in the community.
This requirement is effective immediately and means that, with some exceptions, all persons, including staff, customers or visitors entering an enclosed public space are required to wear a mask or face covering while inside.
“This is a necessary step to ensure we continue our progress in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” says Mayor Alison Warwick. “This by-law is particularly important as more businesses and service providers reopen and we continue to get through this pandemic. Wearing a mask or a face covering while in public spaces is a way that our residents can help one another. Please remember to be respectful and kind to those who are unable to wear a mask.”
The new bylaw applies to all indoor spaces that are openly accessible to the public, including:
- Restaurants, cafés, cafeterias
- Retail establishments and shopping malls
- Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, or other places of worship
- Municipal indoor recreational facilities open to the public, community centres including indoor recreational facilities, whether publically accessible or requiring membership
- Libraries, art galleries, performing arts centres, museums, aquariums, zoos, and other similar facilities
- Community service agencies providing services to the public
- Banquet halls, convention centres, arenas, stadiums, and any other event space;
- Premises utilized as an open house, presentation centre, or other facility for real estate purposes
- Common areas of hotels, motels or other short-term rentals, such as lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms, or other common use facilities
- Concert venues, theatres, cinemas, casinos, and other entertainment facilities
- Other business, organizations and places that are permitted to operate in accordance with the Emergency Orders
- Employees of businesses or establishments working in a publicly-accessible indoor space where there is no physical barrier (such as Plexiglas, a partition, screen or wall)
Masks and face coverings can include a conventional mask or a face covering such as a bandana, scarf, cloth or similar item that covers the nose, mouth and chin without gapping.
Operators of enclosed public spaces are required to post visible signs with specific messaging about the by-law that indicates the face covering requirement. Business owners can download a sign to print and display in their establishment here.
The by-law includes exemptions for those who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, children under the age of 2, and other accommodations under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Residents are not required to show proof of exemption from the wearing a mask or face covering under the by-law. The by-law also permits the temporary removal of a mask or face covering when receiving services, having a meal, or engaging in athletic or fitness activity. Full details on further exemptions are available in the by-law. A link to the full list of exemptions can be found here.
Prior to this by-law, the Chief Medical Officer of Health also issued a Public Health Instruction related to masks, along with an Order for the requirement of mask on public transit, taxis, and ride share vehicle operators and personal care service establishments. Details can be found here.
Residents are reminded that wearing a face covering does not replace other health measures that remain important such as proper hand washing or sanitizing and practicing physical distancing and keeping two-metre distance even when wearing a mask. Wearing a face covering is an additional measure to stop the spread of COVID-19 and reduces the spread of your own infectious respiratory droplets, should you be unknowingly infected.