Letter of Instruction From Dr. Vera Etches to Business Owners and Operators - July 6, 2020

Ottawa Public Health 100 Constellation Drive Ottawa, Ontario K2G 6J8 healthsante@ottawa.ca

July 6, 2020


Dear Employers, Business Owners and Operators; I am writing to all persons responsible for a business or organization that is permitted to open per Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) Ontario Regulation 263/20 – Stage 2 Closures, to highlight your responsibilities and outline additional requirements with respect to implementing mandatory mask use. I am thankful for the efforts undertaken by businesses and residents in Ottawa for their hard work and dedication to protect the health and safety of workers and customers. As more businesses open and people increase their contacts, the risk of a rapid rise in COVID19 infections and outbreaks is ever-present. Therefore, we must continue the hard work everyone across the region has done to get us to where we are today.

Increasing scientific evidence supports wearing a mask when in enclosed public spaces as an important measure in reducing COVID-19 transmission, while the risk of rising rates of infection continues. The data shows that many people are already doing the right thing by wearing a mask, and OPH’s most recent public engagement survey found that the majority of  Ottawa residents are willing to have mask use made mandatory in indoor public spaces in order for them to feel comfortable shopping. As Medical Officer of Health, the following are my instructions, pursuant to O. Reg 263/20 s.4(2) (or as current), to all employers and persons responsible for businesses or organizations within the City of Ottawa, effective July 7, 2020 as of 12:01 am:

1. (1) Every Operator of an Enclosed Public Space

ii shall adopt a policy to ensure that no member of the public is permitted to enter or remain in the public areas of the Enclosed Public Space unless he or she is wearing a Mask

iii in a manner that covers their nose, mouth and chin. (2) Subsection (1) does not apply to:

a) Children under two years of age, or children under the age of five years either chronologically or developmentally who refuse to wear a Mask and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver;

b) Individuals with medical conditions rendering them unable to safely wear a Mask, including breathing difficulties or cognitive difficulties;

c) Individuals who are unable to apply or remove a Mask without assistance, including those who are accommodated under the Accessibility for Page 2 of 5 Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) or who have protections under the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c.H.19, as amended;

d) A person who is employed by or is an agent of the Operator of an Enclosed Public Space and: i. is in an area of the premises that is not designated for public access, or ii. is within or behind a physical barrier (e.g., Plexiglass).

2. Implementation of the policy should be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and should be primarily used as a means to educate people on Mask use in public spaces.

3. No person shall be required to provide proof of any of the exemptions set out in Subsection 1(2).

4. The policy shall: a) exempt the persons set out in Subsection 1(2) from the obligation of wearing a Mask; b) ensure that all persons working at the business or organization are trained in the requirements of the policy; c) require that employees and agents wear a Mask when working in the public areas of the Enclosed Public Space unless the employee or agent is within or behind a physical barrier (e.g. Plexiglass); d) require that employees and agents provide a verbal reminder to any person entering the premises without a Mask that the person should be wearing a Mask as a result of the policy; e) require, for persons in an Enclosed Public Space removing their Mask for extended periods of time, a verbal reminder of the requirement to wear a Mask as a result of the policy; f) permit the temporary removal of a Mask where necessary for the purpose of: i. receiving services; ii. while actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity including water-based activities; iii. consuming food or drink; or iv. for any emergency or medical purpose

5. Ensure the availability of alcohol-based hand rub at all entrances and exits for the use of all persons entering or exiting the establishment.

6. Every Operator of an Enclosed Public Space, upon request, shall provide a copy of the policy to a Public Health Inspector or other person authorized to enforce the provisions of the EMPCA. 

7. The Operator of an Enclosed Public Space shall post, at every public entrance to the premises, prominent and clearly visible signage that contains the following messages: All persons entering or remaining in these premises must wear a mask that securely covers the nose, mouth, and chin as required by the Medical Officer of Health under the authority of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) Ontario Regulation 263/20.


 I thank you for your support and commitment to protecting our community and helping to control the spread of COVID-19.

Sincerely, Dr. Vera Etches Medical Officer of Health Ottawa Public Health


cc: Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health