Haldimand County Council approves face covering by-law

On Monday, July 27, Haldimand County Council reviewed and approved a by-law requiring face coverings in specific enclosed public spaces where physical distancing cannot be achieved. The by-law, which aligns with the Haldimand-Norfolk Medical Officer of Health’s recommendations, takes effect August 1.

The approved by-law is tailored to the needs of Haldimand County and provides flexibility for certain businesses and institutions to develop face covering requirements relative to their specific circumstances and unique needs.

The by-law separates enclosed public spaces into two distinct categories: Category 1 and Category 2. Each category has unique requirements.

Category 1

  • Category 1 includes businesses with a high volume of in-and-out foot traffic where the potential interactions between people including amongst residents and with community visitors is elevated and where as a result the risk is higher. Category 1 businesses include, but are not limited to, supermarkets/grocery stores, bakeries, convenience stores, financial institutions, pharmacies and retail operations with a gross floor area greater than 465 square metres (5,000 sq ft).
  • Category 1 businesses are required to adopt a practice and install signage that prohibits individuals from entering or remaining within their enclosed public space without a face covering.

Category 2

  • Category 2 covers businesses and institutions not covered in Category 1 which include, but are not limited to, office buildings, restaurants, places of worship, retail operations with a gross floor area less than 465 square metres (5,000 sq ft.), libraries, community centres, indoor sport/recreational facilities and gyms.
  • Category 2 businesses are required to adopt a social distancing policy that prohibits individuals from entering or remaining within their enclosed public space unless the individual can maintain, at all times, a physical distance of 2 metres (6ft) from all other individuals. Category 2 businesses must also post prominent, clearly visible signage at every public entrance indicating that individuals must maintain a 2m (6ft) from other individuals, and that a mask is required if that distance cannot be achieved. Under the by-law, businesses in Category 2 reserve the right to require individuals to wear masks within their premises regardless of whether social distancing can be maintained at all times.

The by-law outlines individuals who are exempt from wearing face coverings. These exemptions include, but are not limited to: children under the age of 10 and individuals with medical conditions and/or disabilities. Proof of an exemption is not required, and the public is asked to be respectful of those who may be exempt from wearing a face covering.

“This has been, and continues to be, a very polarizing issue. It would have been preferable for this decision to come from the Province or local Board of Health, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case,” stated Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt. “That being said, we have a duty to protect the community, especially given the influx of visitors coming to the area. We’ve taken a lot of steps over the past few months to ensure our numbers remain low, and we certainly don’t want to lose that momentum and traction. The approved face covering by-law – which takes into account feedback received from residents and businesses – is an added layer of defense in our battle with the virus,” Hewitt added.

Members of the public are reminded that face coverings should be used in combination with frequent hand washing and social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Haldimand County By-Law No. 2191/20 will take effect August 1, 2020 and remain in place until November 2, 2020, unless otherwise amended or repealed. Violations may be reported to the COVID-19 enforcement hotline at 519-428-8019.

A number of resources, including a Frequently Asked Questions document, will be soon be available at HaldimandCounty.ca/COVID-19.