A mandatory mask wearing bylaw has been passed in St. Catharines after a decision was made last night by City Council to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Councillors questioned Niagara’s acting medical officer of health Mustafa Hirji yesterday about the issue and then voted unanimously to move forward with a draft bylaw that makes it mandatory to wear a mask in enclosed spaces where physical distancing is not possible for people 11 years old and up.
Are Masks Effective Against COVID-19?
There are different opinions on how masks assist in the prevention of COVID-19. On a local level, Niagara Region Public Health says a face covering may be an added way to protect others around you, even if you don’t have symptoms, particularly where physical distancing may be a challenge (e.g. on public transit, while shopping). Combined with measures like hand washing and physical distancing, masks are another line of defence against the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Mustafa Hirji continues to say masks should be worn when physical distancing is not possible.
Who is Exempt from Masks
Those with disabilities, or health and medical restrictions, Ontario Human Rights Code accommodations or any who have reasonable situations that are not able to wear masks are not required to do so. Individuals who claim an exemption are not required to provide proof of the exemption.
When Does it Start and How Long Will it Continue?
The mandatory masks bylaw will begin at a date to be determined (likely soon). There will also be some form of communications campaign that will be initiated through The City of St. Catharines to explain further when masks should be worn and how to ensure that if one wears a mask, they do so in an effective manner
At this time it is unknown how long the bylaw will continue in St. Catharines. Obviously many details are yet to be hammered out.
What About the Rest of the Niagara Region
St. Catharines has become the first municipality to enact a mandatory mask bylaw and whether others follow is yet to be seen. However, St. Catharines is not alone as many other places have moved forward in this direction such as Toronto, York, Ottawa and Simcoe-Muskoka.
To see the bylaw on the City’s website for more information go to the link HERE.
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