Health unit issues local mask directive

Homemade protective mask and pieces of cloth on a gray background.

Mandatory masks will come into effect in Renfrew County next Tuesday, July 14.

The Renfrew County and District Health Unit announced Thursday afternoon that it has issued a local directive requiring masks or face coverings be worn in enclosed public spaces.

“RCDHU’s first step for implementation of this directive is a gradual education approach to be further assessed going forward,” the health unit said.

“This directive is to be primarily used to educate people on mask use in enclosed public spaces because 2-metre physical distancing cannot always be maintained.”

The health unit said increasing evidence shows that “widespread use of masks and/or face coverings acts as an additional personal practice that can help to prevent the infectious respiratory droplets of an unknowingly infected person from coming into contact with other people.”

“Masks or face coverings provide a non-invasive, inexpensive way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and serve as a visual reminder to others to remain vigilant and stay physically distant from others.”

For the purpose of this directive, a mask is defined as a cloth (non-medical) mask, medical mask or “other face coverings (eg. a bandana, scarf or cloth), that securely covers the nose, mouth and chin and is in contact with the surrounding face without gapping.”

People who are exempt from wearing a mask or face covering include:

  • Children under two years of age, or children under the age of five years “either chronologically or developmentally” who refuse to wear a mask or face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver;
  • Individuals with medical conditions rendering them “unable to safely wear a mask,” including breathing difficulties or cognitive difficulties; and
  • Anyone who is unable to remove the mask without help or anyone who is unconscious or incapacitated.

“With the reopening of businesses and public settings in our communities, there is an increased risk of a rapid rise in COVID-19 infections and outbreaks as people expand their contacts,” the health unit said.

The RCDHU website has resources available to support the reopening of businesses and public settings at rcdhu.com.


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