SIMCOE MUSKOKA – The Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit has made its decision regarding use of face coverings. As of Monday July 13, 2020, the public is required to wear a face covering (i.e. non-medical mask) when entering the indoor premises of businesses, organizations and on public transit systems in Simcoe Muskoka. This will be achieved through instructions to businesses and organizations to have a policy in place requiring this. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is issuing these instructions under the authority of the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) in an effort to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.
“As we move through the stages of the reopening of the economy there is an increased risk of resurgence of COVID-19 transmission in our communities. Locally we are seeing more visitors from other parts of the province with a much higher incidence of COVID-19, resulting in crowding in public spaces, and this has us concerned,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s medical officer of health.
“There is emerging evidence that suggests the spread of COVID-19 can be reduced with a high level of compliance of non-medical mask use by the public. As well, we have a great deal of support for the use of face coverings in indoor public spaces from municipalities, physicians and hospitals, and other community partners.”
The health unit has prepared instructions for businesses and organizations under the EMCPA, with the expectation that they use their “best efforts” requiring the public to wear face coverings, including the use of signs and verbal reminders. There is no requirement, however, that a business turn away a customer who is not wearing a face covering. In addition, there are certain exemptions including age, religious practices and medical circumstances.
A face covering means a medical or non-medical mask or other face coverings such as a bandana, a scarf or cloth that covers the mouth and nose.
“Our businesses and organizations that are open to the public have worked diligently to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and many already ask that patrons and clients wear a face covering,” said Dr. Gardner. “Requiring the public to wear a face covering is an extra step to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and is key for the continued successful reopening of the local economy and to safeguard our residents against the virus in circulation now, into the fall and beyond.”
For more information about COVID-19, including frequently asked questions and signage for businesses, see www.smdhu.org or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.