Council Votes for Mandatory Mask Use in Petrolia’s Indoor Public Spaces Effective Friday, August 14, 2020

Posted: August 11, 2020

Council, the Emergency Control Group (ECG) and Staff have worked diligently and progressively to provide the highest level of protection to all residents of Petrolia throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic. Closely monitoring COVID-19 trends, in preparation of a rise in numbers or changing conditions; Council, Staff and the ECG are preparing to implement mandatory mask wearing in all indoor public spaces effective Friday, August 14, 2020.

The mandatory mask requirement comes after more than 2,200 responses were received by public survey last week and of those responding voted 51% in favour of mandatory masks and 49% voted against the proposal. Several resident and non-resident responses were shared and helped Council to respond accordingly.

Support for the Mandatory Mask By-Law comes from Dr. Charles Winegard, Medical Director of Health for Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital and Director of Rural Health for Bluewater Health, and he voiced his support on behalf of the rural doctors in writing to the municipality that persons wear face coverings in public.

The Town of Petrolia Director of Protective Services/Community Emergency Management Coordinator (CEMC) has recommended through an August 10, 2020 report to Council, that when face coverings are properly worn in public it assists in flattening the curve and spread of COVID-19. The Council of the Town of Petrolia is desirous to implement a requirement to aid in flattening the curve and spread of COVID-19 for persons to wear a face covering while in certain enclosed public places within the Town of Petrolia.

“Masks are not the only defense, but they play a vital role in protecting people. Masks are an adjunct to the other recommended health measures of frequent hand washing and sanitizing, as well as physical distancing in the overall goal of reducing the spread.” Said Councillor Grant Purdy.

The details of the By-Law that will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 14, 2020:

a) Every person within an enclosed public place shall wear a face covering.
b) Every person that is the parent or guardian accompanying a child that is nine (9) years old or older in an enclosed public place shall ensure that the child wears a face covering.
c) A “person” in subsections a) and b) of this section shall include any occupant within an enclosed public place and shall include, but not be limited to, any owner, operator, employee and worker in the enclosed public place and any customer, patron or other visitor in the enclosed public place but shall not include any of the following persons:
i. A child who is under the age of nine (9) years old;
ii. A person who is unable to wear a face covering as a result of a medical condition or a disability pursuant to the Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, who is unable to put on or remove a face covering without assistance or for whom a face covering would inhibit the person’s ability to breathe;
iii. A person engaged in a sport or other strenuous physical activity;
iv. A person while assisting or accommodating another person with a hearing disability; and
v. A person while consuming food or drink as part of a religious activity within a place of worship.
d) No person shall be required to provide proof of any of the exemptions set out in subsections a) (i), (ii) and (iv) of this section
e) For the purposes of this section, an “enclosed public place” shall mean the indoor areas of any building as part of the following establishments within The Town of Petrolia that are open to the general public:
i. Stores and other establishments that sell or offer to sell food, beverages, consumer products, vehicles, equipment or other goods;
ii. Restaurants, bars and other establishments that sell or offer to sell food or drink to the public for on-site consumption or takeout, with the exception of the patrons while consuming food and drinks in the seating areas therein;
iii. Establishments that provide or offer to provide services, including but not limited to professional, counselling, personal care, funeral home, transportation, repair and rental services, to the public, with the exception of services related to child care and day camps, care for the elderly and persons with disabilities;
iv. Lobby areas of commercial buildings;
v. Laundromats;
vi. Concert venues, theatres, community centres and service clubs;
vii. Fitness centres, gyms and other recreational and sports facilities;
viii. Real estate open houses;
ix. Libraries, historic sites and similar places;
x. Places of worship; and
xi. Municipal facilities
f) For greater certainty, a waiting area, lobby, service counter, washroom, hallway, stairwell and elevator are included as part of any “enclosed public place” prescribed in subsection e) of this section if they are open to the general public.
g) For greater certainty, the following places shall not be included as an “enclosed public place” for the purposes of this section:
i. an enclosed public place that is owned or operated by or on behalf of the Provincial or Federal Government;
ii. schools;
iii. hospitals, independent health facilities and offices of regulated health professionals; and
iv. an indoor area of a building that is accessible only to employees.
h) For the purposes of this section, a “face covering” shall mean a medical grade mask or non-medical cloth mask or other face covering, including a bandana, scarf or other fabric that covers the nose, mouth and chin to create a barrier to limit the transmission of respiratory droplets.
i) Every person who is the owner or operator, including a corporation of an enclosed public place shall post clearly visible signage attached to this policy as Schedule “A” visibly at all entrances to the enclosed public place.

This by-law may be enforced by:
a) a municipal law enforcement officer or by-law officer appointed by the Council of The Town of Petrolia; and
b) such other person as designated from time to time by the Council of The Town of Petrolia;
c) Every person who contravenes any provision of this By-law is guilty of an offence;
d) Upon conviction, every person who contravenes any provision in this By- law is liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), exclusive of costs, for each offence, recoverable under the provisions of the Provincial Offences Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.33, as amended, or any successor legislation thereto.
“This By-Law is about keeping our community safe and healthy. It is about showing kindness to others and being considerate when inside public spaces. Petrolia has worked so well together during the COVID-19 pandemic to help keep our community safe, and this is another way that we can do that.” Said Mayor R. Brad Loosley.

Councillor Marty Souch said, “When it comes to safety, I will always go the extra mile.”

Councillor Ross O’Hara said, “I wear a mask and have no problem doing so, I respect the need to do so, however, I do not believe there needs to be a by-law in place to fine people. I’d rather see a strong educational campaign to encourage people to wear them.”

The Council of the Town of Petrolia, Staff, and the ECG will be providing public education around masks, and providing ongoing reminders about hand washing, physical distancing and staying home when feeling sick.

“We have to do the right thing. We need to protect our residents.” Said Councillor Wade Deighton

ECG and Staff are constantly monitoring COVID-19 for changes and will remain proactive for the safety and protection of our residents. Changes in trends of the current COVID-19 situation will result in actions taken by Council, Staff, and the ECG.

Councillor Don Welten said, “We need to help people. Wearing a mask isn’t something difficult to do and I think we need to take care of our residents.”

The By-Law will be reviewed in three months if the Province has Emergency orders in place. Should the Municipality lift the State of Emergency during this time or other legislation be put in place, the By-Law would be repealed. During a recorded vote, Councillors voted six in favour and one against mandatory masks for indoor public spaces in the Town of Petrolia.

Councillor Joel Field said, “I am taking the advice of our medical experts whom I have great confidence in. The role of the CEMC is a difficult one and I understand that this is has been a tough time for the ECG. This is not an easy decision.”

Approved signs from Lambton Public Health will be distributed to Petrolia businesses this week.