Peterborough Public Health Announces Mandatory Face Coverings in Certain Local Indoor Settings

Health care professional holding a mask

Today Peterborough Public Health announced that face coverings will become mandatory for local residents in most indoor settings starting at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, August 1.

After collaborating with local municipal leaders, Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health is invoking a directive under the Province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA) that requires individuals to wear a face covering in certain indoor public spaces. Under the directive, the person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall operate it in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials, including any advice, recommendations or instructions on physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting. The directive applies to all owners and operators of commercial establishments, public transit services, and commercial transportation services within the Peterborough Public Health catchment area.

“Although not conclusive, there is increasing scientific evidence that wearing a face covering can help reduce COVID-19 transmission,” said Dr. Salvaterra. “This measure will help both residents and visitors to our area and adds to a clear and consistent regionalized approach to mandatory face coverings across the Central Ontario region, especially as we move into Stage 3 of our restart.”

The directive invoked by Dr. Salvaterra will remain in place until provincial emergency orders expire, which were recently extended until July 29, 2020. However, on July 7, 2020, the Government of Ontario introduced the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 that would, if passed, ensure important measures remain in place to address the threat of COVID-19 once the provincial Declaration of Emergency has ended. The extension of these emergency orders under the EMCPA would allow orders that remain essential to be continued under the proposed legislation, if passed. The government continues to review emergency orders currently in place to determine when and if they can be safely eased or lifted.

Dr. Salvaterra emphasized as the Peterborough area enters Stage 3 of the provincial reopening plan, following public health guidance is key to staving off a resurgence of COVID-19. “While local businesses and organizations are doing their part to implement measures within their settings to prevent the spread of coronavirus, as individuals we also need to continue our efforts such as physical distancing, washing our hands often, staying home when sick, and now, wearing a face covering when in an enclosed public space,” said Dr. Salvaterra.

The mask must cover the mouth, nose and chin to prevent respiratory droplets from one’s mouth and nose from reaching others or landing on surfaces. It is important for local residents to know how to properly wear a mask, as per Health Canada’s guidance. Learn more about how to properly wear a mask, and where to purchase a mask at www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca/facecoverings.

Dr. Salvaterra and her team are using existing networks to communicate to owners and operators directly. The directive will be enacted and enforced in good faith and will be primarily used as a means to educate people on mandatory mask use in enclosed public spaces. Further information about enforcement can be found at www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca.

“We have heard directly from many local residents and community partners that a clear mandatory mask directive is important to them to keep our community safe,” says Dr. Salvaterra. “Socializing and normalizing mask use in enclosed public places will help protect others, especially our most vulnerable residents.” Dr. Salvaterra noted though it is equally as important not to stigmatize those who are unable to wear face coverings for medical reasons. “Being kind, patient and respectful to others is just as important as any infection control measure as we also must remember to support each other’s mental health during the pandemic.”

On July 16, 2020, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce published the results of a member survey indicating nearly 70% favoured a mandatory mask policy. Further details can be found on their website here or by visiting www.peterboroughchamber.ca.

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

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For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence

Communications Manager

705-743-1000, ext. 391