When and how businesses should enforce Kingston’s mask order

Photo by Vera Davidova.

Mayor Bryan Paterson has asked Kingstonians not to police one another on the City’s universal masking policy.

“Public health officials have been clear that anybody who has breathing difficulties or a related medical condition does not need to wear a mask,” the Mayor said in a public YouTube address on Friday, Jul. 11, 2020. “So if you’re inside a store…and you see someone that isn’t wearing a face covering, I encourage you to give them the benefit of the doubt,” he said.

The Mayor’s messaging contrasts slightly with the guidelines issued to business owners by Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health. KFL&A Public Health has posted a list of FAQs on Mandatory Face Covering on their website, including guidance for commercial establishments.

“Where a person not wearing a face covering enters the commercial establishment, a verbal reminder should be given to the customer to wear a face covering,” say the guidelines. Public Health also reiterates that a customer may have an exemption, and be unable to wear a mask.

Similarly, if a business owner notices a patron removing their face masks while on the premise, Public Health asks that they be given “a verbal reminder of the requirement to keep on their face covering.”

In keeping with the Mayor, Public Health notes that “All exemptions to the Order should be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith,’ and should be used as a means to educate people on the use of face coverings.”

KFL&A Public Health’s mask order came into effect on Monday, Jun. 29, 2020.

Mayor Paterson added in his address that residents seem to be following the policy well. “As Mayor, I’ve been so impressed how the community has embraced this change to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

Refusing to comply with the order can result in a fine of up to $5,000 per day or part of day on which the offense occurs, according to KFL&A Public Health. Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore noted that enforcement would not start right away when he announced the mask order on Friday, Jun. 26, 2020.

KFL&A has not listed any offenses of the mask order under the enforcement section of their website. The Kingstonist has inquired with public health as to whether enforcement has begun, and will update this article as more information becomes available.

Guidelines for commercial establishments

Businesses owners are required under the Order to post visible signage at store entrances indicating that face coverings are required. KFL&A Public Health has posted approved signage for businesses on their website.

In a situation where an employee needs to remove their face covering to communicate, Public Health asks people to keep two metres apart.

Commercial establishments mandated under the order include:

  • retail stores, convenience stores, malls and shopping plazas
  • food premises
  • personal service settings
  • grocery stores and bakeries
  • churches and faith settings
  • farmers’ markets
  • merchant garages or repair shops that are open to the public
  • libraries
  • community centres
  • buses, taxis, limos and other private transportation
  • public transportation
  • business offices that are open to the public

At day camps and day care centres, only staff are required to cover their faces.

Schools, business offices that are closed to the public, professional offices such as those of lawyers or accountants, hospitals, independent health facilities, and the offices of regulated health professionals are not subject to the mask Order.

Apartment buildings and condominiums are not subject to the order, although KFL&A Public Health notes that residential building owners may choose to implement their own policies.

Public Health notes that face shields are not a substitute for a mask, as they do not filter respiratory droplets. However, their guidelines indicate that the World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of face shields as a “better than nothing” alternative to face masks for people who are not able to wear non-medical masks.

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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