Haldimand County Council to review proposed face covering by-law

On Monday, July 27, Haldimand County Council will review a draft by-law that would require face coverings in specific enclosed public spaces or spaces where physical distancing cannot be achieved.

The intent of Council is to 1) introduce face covering regulations that are tailored to Haldimand County and 2) provide flexibility for certain businesses to develop face covering requirements relative to their specific circumstances and unique needs.

The decision to implement a by-law was made given mounting evidence of the effectiveness of face coverings in preventing the transmission of COVID-19, and consideration of actions taken by neighbouring municipalities, including Norfolk County, to introduce face covering regulations in the absence of a vaccine.

Haldimand County continues to rely on and follow the advice of the Medical Officer of Health – who serves both Haldimand and Norfolk counties as one health unit region – for guidance related to public health decisions. The Medical Officer of Health supports the use of face coverings where social distancing cannot be achieved, and the by-law under consideration aligns with this advice.

While Haldimand County believes public health issues like this should be dealt with as a Board of Health matter, Haldimand Council is in part introducing the face covering by-law to ensure consistency within the health unit region.

Overall, the intent is to enact a by-law requiring face coverings in enclosed public spaces where interactions of significant numbers of people are more likely, and where physical distancing is difficult or impossible. This includes, but is not limited to: convenience stores, grocery stores, banks and large retail operations. The by-law includes exemptions for persons with specific medical conditions and disabilities.

For smaller businesses and other indoor spaces, the proposed by-law would require the use of face coverings only when a business has identified that social distancing requirements cannot be achieved through other measures. Businesses will have the option of requiring face coverings if they choose to do so, however, all businesses will be required to post signage that indicates whether face coverings are required.

Over the past few weeks, the County has actively engaged in dialogue with residents, local Chambers of Commerce, BIAs, public health officials on the topic of face coverings and while there are certainly mixed opinions, a face covering by-law is one additional step to protect the health, safety and well-being of everyone that lives and works in the municipality.

Council will review the proposed face coverings by-law at a Special Council meeting (July 27, 9:30 a.m.) at the Haldimand County Administration Building (53 Thorburn St. S, Cayuga). The meeting will be live-streamed. Members of the public can read the draft by-law on the Council Meetings & Agendas page of HaldimandCounty.ca. Public comments regarding the proposed by-law can be provided in writing via e-mail to the Municipal Clerk at clerk@haldimandcounty.on.ca.

Additional information related to the County’s COVID-19 response is available at HaldimandCounty.ca/COVID-19.