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Mandatory Face Coverings By-Law


City Council recently passed a temporary by-law, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, which requires residents to wear a mask or face covering in all enclosed publicly-accessible spaces in London.

This means, with some exceptions, all persons, including customers, visitors and staff, entering an enclosed public premise are required to wear a mask or face covering while inside.

Masks and face coverings include a medical or non-medical mask or face coverings such as a bandana, scarf, cloth or similar item that covers the nose, mouth and chin without gapping.

Wearing a mask or face covering is not an alternative to safe physical distancing. Every effort should be made to keep a two-metre distance even when wearing a mask. Wearing a face covering should always be combined with other health measures such proper hand washing or sanitizing, not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, and staying home if you are sick.

Mandatory Face Coverings By-Law PH-20

When is a face covering required?

A face covering or mask is required in any indoor public setting, including:

  • Restaurants, cafés, cafeterias
  • Retail establishments and shopping malls
  • Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, or other places of worship
  • City indoor recreational facilities open to the public, community centres including indoor recreational facilities, whether publicly accessible or requiring membership
  • Libraries, art galleries, performing arts centres, museums, aquariums, zoos, and other similar facilities
  • Community service agencies providing services to the public
  • Banquet halls, convention centres, arenas, stadiums, and any other event space;
  • Premises utilized as an open house, presentation centre, or other facility for real estate purposes
  • Common areas of hotels, motels or other short-term rentals, such as lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms, or other common use facilities
  • Concert venues, theatres, cinemas, casinos, and other entertainment facilities
  • Other business, organizations and places that are permitted to operate in accordance with the Emergency Orders.
  • Employees of businesses or establishments working in a publicly-accessible indoor space where there is no physical barrier (such as Plexiglas, a partition, screen or wall)

When is a face covering not required?

Face coverings are not required in the following locations,

  • Businesses or establishments that are not publicly accessible
  • Outdoor spaces
  • Within businesses or establishments, or by employees and staff, that meet any of the exemptions
  • Employees or staff at a business or establishment working behind a physical barrier (such as Plexiglas, a partition, screen or wall)
  • Day cares, schools, post-secondary institutions, and other facilities used solely for educational purposes
  • Hospitals and portions of buildings used by regulated health professionals;
  • Buildings owned or operated by the Province of Ontario or the Government of Canada
  • Portions of community centres, arenas or other buildings that are being used for the purpose of day camps for children or for the training of amateur or professional athletes
  • School transportation vehicles
  • Court facilities, or a portion of a building where any similar legislated judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding is taking place; professional offices that are not open to the public and are open by appointment only (such as a lawyer or accountant office)
  • Indoor areas of buildings that are accessible to employees only

For exemptions to this list, please see the By-law.

Who is exempt from wearing a mask or face covering under this by-law?

The following persons are exempt from the requirement to wear a mask or face covering:

  • Children under 12 years of age
  • Persons with an underlying medical condition or disability which inhibits their ability to wear a face covering
  • Persons who are unable to place or remove a face covering without assistance
  • Employees or agents of the establishment within an area designated for them and not publicly accessible, or in an area separated by a physical barrier
  • Persons who are reasonably accommodated by not wearing a face covering in accordance with the Ontario Human Right Code
  • Persons in an establishment, while receiving services involving the face and requiring the removal of the face covering, including but not limited to eating or drinking, or while actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity
  • Persons within an Establishment, while participating in a religious service, for rituals which require an uncovered mouth

Please be respectful of the rights of individuals who are exempt from wearing a mask in conformity with the exemptions provided in the By-law.

Under the by-law, residents are not required to show exemption from wearing a mask before entering an enclosed public space.

Middlesex-London Health Unit Instruction:

Prior to this by-law, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Middlesex-London Health Unit, also issued a Public Health Instruction related to masks, along with an Order for the requirement of mask on public transit, taxis, and ride share vehicle operators and personal care service establishments. Details can be found here: https://www.healthunit.com/face-masks#full-requirements

FAQs for Residents

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  • What qualifies as a mask or face covering?

    This can include a medical or non-medical mask or face covering such as a bandana, scarf, cloth or similar item that covers the nose, mouth and chin without gapping.

  • Do people need to show proof that they are exempt from the by-law?

    No proof is required to show you are exempt from wearing a mask before entering an enclosed public space.

  • How will this by-law be enforced?

    The City of London is taking a proactive education first approach to the bylaw. Municipal law enforcement officers will be visiting large and small businesses and providing education to the business operators and public.

    Municipal Law Enforcement Officers will issue warnings when necessary.  When a warning is not deemed sufficient or for repeat offenders, enforcement of the by-law can include penalties through ticketing. The City of London has applied for a set fine (ticket) of $500. Once a set fine Order is received, enforcement will be employed if necessary.

  • What are the fines?

    Upon conviction of an offence under this By-law, a person or operator shall be liable to a fine in accordance with section 429 of the Municipal Act, 2001, as follows:

    • A minimum of $500 and a maximum fine of $100,000.00
    • In the case of a continuing offence, for each day or part of a day that the offence continues, a minimum of $500 and a maximum fine of $10,000.00, and the total of all daily fines for the offence is not limited to $100,000.00.
    • In the case of a multiple offence, for each offence included in the multiple offence, a minimum fine of $500, and a maximum fine of $10,000.00, and the total of all fines for each included offence is not limited to $100,000.00.
  • How do I report someone for not wearing a face covering?

    If you have concerns about someone not wearing a face covering, please keep in mind that there are a number of exemptions to the by-law and there is no requirement for people to prove their condition or disability.

    Many conditions are invisible: residents and business owners should take people at their word and be kind and respectful.

    If anyone appears to be willfully contravening the by-law, residents should discuss the violation with the business operator first. After this, if residents wish to report that another resident or a local business is not in compliance with the By-law, they can do so by emailing covidorderconcerns@london.ca or calling 519-661-4660.

  • Do I still need to stay 2 meters away from others if I am wearing a face mask?

    Yes. Wearing a mask is not an alternative to physical distancing. Every effort should be made to keep a 2-metre distance even when wearing a mask.

  • How long will this by-law be in effect?

    This By-law comes into force and effect on the day it is passed and shall remain in effect until December 31, 2020 or until such time as the regulation O. Reg. 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3, made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.9., is revoked.

  • Where can I find additional information on health information or research on the importance of wearing a face covering or mask?

    Please visit the Middlesex-London Health Unit for health-related information and how to prevent the spread of COVID-19: https://www.healthunit.com/face-masks#full-requirements

  • Am I required to wear a mask in my apartment or condominium building’s lobby and shared spaces?

    If your apartment or condominium is a controlled entry building where a key or security code is required to gain access to the lobby and shared spaces, then the By-law does not apply and wearing a mask inside the lobby and other shared spaces would not be required, unless your property management has implemented an additional policy that requires face coverings be worn in common spaces.

    If the building is not controlled entry and the public can freely access the lobby and shared spaces, then this would then be defined as an establishment where a mask would be required.

FAQs for Business Owners and Operators

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  • What is my responsibility as a business owner?

    Businesses that provide indoor services have a role to play in helping everyone comply with the new by-law.

    Operators of enclosed public spaces are required to post visible signs with specific messaging about the by-law that indicates the face covering requirement. Business owners can download a sign to print and display here: http://www.london.ca/newsroom/Pages/Mandatory-Face-Coverings-Bylaw.aspx

  • What if someone enters my business without a mask?

    If a person arrives without a mask, operators must notify them of the mask requirement as soon as possible after they enter the premises.

    If the client says they are exempt from the bylaw, they do not need to show proof and no further action is needed on behalf of the operator.

    If a patron refuses to wear a mask and is not exempt from the by-law, a business operator may report the issue to the City for follow-up. This applies to patrons of businesses, and business employees as well.

  • What qualifies as a mask or face covering?

    This can include a medical or non-medical mask or face covering such as a bandana, scarf, cloth or similar item that covers the nose, mouth and chin without gapping.

  • Can I require proof of exemption?

    No. The by-law does not require people to provide proof of exemption.

  • Do employees need to wear a face covering in staff-only areas?

    No. Employees or staff while in a staff-only area, or an area separated by a physical barrier (such as Plexiglas, a partition, screen or wall) are not required to wear a face covering.

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