- Niagara Region became the latest Niagara municipal government to pass a mask bylaw last night, joining St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake. The law will come into effect on July 31st and will last until October 1st, unless extended. The bylaw will cover all Niagara municipalities, effectively overriding previous mask bylaws, although it may be overriden in turn by provincial or federal legislation. The bylaw (PDF link) mandates that:
- Every person within an enclosed public place shall wear a face covering, and every public transit rider must don a mask prior to boarding and keep it on while riding.
- Parents of children aged 5 or older are responsible for ensuring that the child wears a face covering.
- As a business, this bylaw applies to your indoor spaces that the public can access, including any that would require a membership (e.g. a gym) or an entrance fee (e.g. a nightclub with a door charge).
- Face coverings that are not purpose-designed, such as scarves or bandanas, are acceptable as long as they cover the nose and mouth.
- You must post a sign at every public entrance to your business, have a mask policy, and have trained all your staff on that policy. The Region is working on template policies and signs, and we will let you know when these are available and host them on our site for you.
- You must provide hand sanitizer with a minimum of 70% alcohol content at all public entrances and exits to your premises.
- Exemptions are made for:
- children under 5
- anyone who can’t wear or put on a face covering owing to a medical condition or a disability recognized under the Ontario Human Rights Code
- anyone eating or drinking in an establishment permitted to serve food or drink
- anyone receiving a service that would not be possible while wearing a mask (e.g. dental treatment) provided that everyone except the recipient and provider of the service are a minimum of 2 metres away
- anyone playing a sport or performing another strenuous activity
- anyone assisting someone with a hearing disability
- employees who are behind a physical barrier (e.g. plexiglass screen or a wall) or in a part of the building not open to the public (e.g. back offices or warehouse space).
- You may not require proof of an exemption, but you are also within your rights to refuse service or entry to a person who is not wearing a mask, even if they claim a disability protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
- Violating this bylaw can be penalized with a fine of up to $1,000 per offence.
- Niagara Region Public Health is now operating three testing centres in Niagara (PDF link). The St. Catharines Assessment Centre is located behind the Walker Family Cancer Centre at the rear of the St. Catharines Site at 1200 Fourth Ave, and also operates a drive-through service. The Niagara Falls Assessment Centre is located in the Allied Health building behind the Greater Niagara General Site located at 5673 North Street in Niagara Falls. The Welland Assessment Centre is located in the auditorium of the Welland Site at 65 Third Street. The St. Catharines and Niagara Falls sites are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Sunday, while the Welland centre is open from 9am to 5pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. To avoid wait times of 30-60 minutes for walk-ins, testing by appointment is recommended. Appointments can be booked by phone at 905-378-4647 ext. 42819 (4-CV19).
- Niagara Region Public Health strongly recommends that restaurants collect customer names, contact numbers, times of arrival and what table/location they were sitting at, and that they retain that information for six (6) weeks. This will be a huge help for any potential case and contact tracing, and the recommendation comes out of issues in other areas where large outbreaks have been tracted back to restaurants and bars. The maintenance of a 2 metre separation between people remains the single most effective measure for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
- Service Canada is offering free webinars from 5 August, 2020 to 27 August, 2020 to provide information about federal government programs and services that could benefit clients including Indigenous peoples, seniors, persons with disabilities, families, youth, workers (including self-employed individuals), employers and newcomers. For more information, email Service Canada.
- Beware of bias training: Addressing systemic racism is not an easy fix, Javeed Sukhera, The Conversation
- What Safe Shopping Looks Like During the Pandemic, Robert Shumsky & Laurens Debo, Harvard Business Review
- More Canadian firms than ever are seeking creditor protection, Chris Fournier, BNN Bloomberg
- How to socialize safely outside your bubble, staff writer, CBC News
If you are showing symptoms, you must self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days. Call a public health authority immediately. Do not visit any healthcare provider in person before you have been directly advised to by public health authorities.
Remember that a COVID-19 test is only a snapshot of your health on the specific date and time the swab was taken. No testing is perfect and a negative result doesn’t mean you haven’t been exposed to COVID-19. You can still develop symptoms days after your test was taken.
It is important that everyone practice physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Maintain a 2-metre distance from other people. When maintaining distance is impossible, use a face mask. Wash hands frequently and thoroughly. Avoid touching the face. If you have recently traveled outside the country, you are legally required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Previous updates can be accessed here.
Stay safe and be vigilant. The GNCC is here to support you. Contact us with any questions you have.