Face Coverings Class Order and FAQs

Effective 12:01 a.m. on June 12, 2020, any customer, patron, employee or visitor, who enters a commercial establishment in the WDG region is required to wear a face covering while inside the establishment. More details and exemptions below.

Section 22 Order

Frequently Asked Questions

Section 22 Order Summary

Effective 12:01 a.m. on June 12, 2020, Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health for the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit, has ordered all persons who own or operate a Commercial Establishment in the jurisdiction of the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit., to:

  1. Prohibit persons from entering the premises of the Commercial Establishment or remaining in the premises if the said Person is not wearing a Face Covering. The Face Covering must be worn inside the Establishment at all times, unless it is reasonably required to temporarily remove the Face Covering for services provided by the Establishment.
  2. Ensure the availability of alcohol-based hand rub at all entrances and exits for the use of all Persons entering or exiting the Establishment.

Please see the full CLASS ORDER - Face Coverings in Commercial Establishments (Updated June 12, 2020) (PDF, 3 page) for detailed information.

  • Note: This order was revised on June 12, 2020 (effective 8:01 a.m.) to provide clarifying language.

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Are face coverings a safe and effective way to prevent COVID-19? 

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets can travel up to 2 metres (6 feet) so wearing a face covering that covers your mouth, nose, and chin will help prevent respiratory droplets from reaching others or landing on surfaces.

Wearing a face covering when in public spaces protects others from your respiratory droplets. This is especially important in situations where physical distancing is often difficult or inconsistent such as commercial establishments .

The use of face coverings must be used in combination with good hand hygiene, not touching your face and physical distancing whenever possible.

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Who is required to wear a face covering under this order?

Any customer, patron, employee or visitor, who enters the establishment.

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Who is required to use the hand sanitizer provided by establishments?

No one is required by the order to use hand sanitizer. The requirement under the order is for owners/operators to make it available.

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Are employees of a commercial establishment required to wear a face covering?

Yes, employees are covered under the order. Employees are required to wear a face covering in areas in which customers interact with one another or with staff members or in any areas that are open or accessible to members of the public, such as:

  • retail floor/aisles;
  • cashier area/queues;
  • service desks/counters;
  • publicly accessible washrooms.

Workplaces may have other safety measures in place like plexiglass barriers, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, and physical distancing, but employees are still required to wear face coverings when other safety measures are in place.

Employees are not required to wear a face covering in areas not accessible to the public such as, staff lounge areas, stock/storage rooms, workshop/service rooms, private offices, shipping/receiving areas, outdoor patio/display areas of a retail location (e.g., outdoor garden centres). 

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Who should not wear a face covering?

  • Children under the age of two years.
  • Children under the age of five years (either chronologically or developmentally) who refuse to wear a face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver.
  • People whose ability to breathe in any way is inhibited by the face covering.
  • People that have any other medical reason they cannot wear a face covering safely, such as, but not limited to, respiratory disease, cognitive difficulties or difficulties in hearing or processing information.

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Can businesses require proof of exemption or turn people away?

The health-related exemptions listed in the order are there to ensure that people who cannot wear a face covering are still able to access commercial establishments. No proof is required under the order and Public Health is not asking businesses to check or require documentation.

Our expectation is that individuals who self-identify as meeting an exemption should be allowed into the establishment, without requiring any documentation.

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Where am I required to wear a face covering?

A face covering is required when entering and while on the premises of any commercial establishment (this means a commercial premises used for the purposes of offering goods or services for sale to members of the public and includes a mall or other structure containing a number of commercial premises) in the WDG region. The face covering must be worn in areas that are openly accessible to members of the public and that are used for the purposes of offering goods or services for sale to members of the public. 

This includes:

  • Any areas in which customers interact with one another or with staff members;
  • Any areas that are open or accessible to members of the public (except in areas outside, whether or not the outdoor area is covered, such as a restaurant patio)

Examples of where a face covering is required under the class order would include:

  • retail stores
  • convenience stores
  • malls/plazas
  • restaurants (inside only at take-out counter or to use washroom)
  • personal service settings (such as salons or barber shops)
  • grocery stores and bakeries
  • gas stations (inside the gas station store/kiosk only)
  • farmer’s markets (indoor public areas only)
  • repair or mechanics’ shops/garages (indoor public areas only)

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Where are face coverings NOT required under this order?

The use of face coverings is recommended for the health and safety of all customers, patrons, employees or visitors, in situations where physical distancing (spatial separation of individuals by at least two metres) is difficult to maintain. However, there are settings not subject to the order, even if they would otherwise fall within the definition of a commercial establishment. For example, establishments that are or will be covered under separate provincial guidance, are covered by a regulatory college or ones that are multijurisdictional may not be included in the order.  

Examples of where a face covering is NOT required under the class order include: 

  • churches or faith settings
  • day camps
  • child care centres
  • schools
  • libraries
  • community centres
  • offices that are not open to members of the public
  • professional offices where clients receive purchases services (e.g., lawyer or accountant’s office) that are not open to members of the public
  • private transportation (e.g., bus, taxi, or limo)
  • public transportation (e.g., bus or train) (Please note: Masks are required on Guelph Transit as per announcement on June 16, 2020)
  • hospitals
  • independent health facilities
  • offices of regulated health professionals
  • outdoor restaurant dining areas and patios, or drive-thru windows

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Can the Medical Officer of Health order mandatory face coverings in WDG?

As the Medical Officer of Heath, Dr. Mercer has the authority and responsibility to stop the spread of infectious diseases in our community. Each Medical Officer of Health has authority under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to implement an order to protect our local community. These local measures complement the recommendations and orders from the province.

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Why make face coverings mandatory now?

COVID-19 is still in our communities and in Ontario. As we move into Phase 2 and as Ontarians are expanding their bubbles, gathering in larger numbers and going to more establishments, physical distancing becomes more difficult and person-to-person transmission is more likely. Wearing a face covering when in public spaces protects others from your respiratory droplets, but it is still important to physical distance as much as possible, keep washing your hands often and to avoid touching your face. If everyone does their part, we can keep opening the province and our region safely.

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How can establishments notify customers, patrons, employees or visitors about the order before they enter our establishment?

WDGPH has created a detailed section 22 class order poster for businesses to use at commercial establishments to alert any customer, patron, employee or visitor about the order. There is also a poster for businesses with simplified instructions. The poster is also available in French. 

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What type of face coverings should be worn? 

Face coverings do not have to be fancy or expensive but must cover the mouth, nose and chin and provide a barrier that limits the transmission of infectious respiratory droplets and can include:

  • a medical mask (while medical masks count as face coverings in this order, Public Health recommends that they be saved for health care workers and that members of the public wear non-medical face coverings),
  • a non-medical mask (cloth, homemade etc.),
  • or other face coverings such as a bandana, a scarf or cloth.

You may choose to make your own face covering and can follow these online instructions on how to make Homemade Cloth Face Coverings.

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What about face shields?

Face shields do not provide full coverage of the mouth, nose and chin, so do not contain respiratory droplets like a face covering. However, a face shield is better than no face covering, especially for those who cannot wear a face covering safely.

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Who is providing the face coverings?

Establishments may choose to have disposable masks available for the public, but it’s not a requirement. Visitors of a commercial establishment must supply their own face covering.

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Will face covering requirements be enforced?

It is the responsibility of the owner or operator to ensure people do not enter without a face covering unless they indicate they are exempt. We have similar rules for other societal norms such as shirts, shoes and cigarettes.

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Can businesses determine their own mandatory face covering policies outside of this order?

Establishments can determine their own policies in addition to this order if they so choose. Since there are people who cannot use face coverings, appropriate and reasonable exemptions should be provided by the business.

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Do I still need to stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from people if wearing a face covering?

Yes that is ideal and should be practiced whenever possible. Wearing a face covering is an important additional measure when physical distancing is not possible.

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Can I remove my face covering if physical distancing is not a concern in the establishment I am visiting?

The face covering must be worn inside the establishment at all times in areas that are openly accessible to members of the public and that are used for the purposes of offering goods or services for sale to members of the public. The face covering must be worn inside the establishment at all times, unless it is reasonably required to temporarily remove the face covering.

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Is hand sanitizer safe for children?

According to the Canadian Paediatric Society:

  • Young children should only use hand sanitizer with adult supervision.
  • When using hand sanitizer on yourself or others including children, apply a dime-sized amount to dry hands. Rub hands together until completely dry.
  • Keep hand sanitizers out of reach of pets and children. Young children, especially toddlers, may be attracted by the pleasant smell and the brightly coloured bottles.
  • Make sure children do not put any hand sanitizer into their mouth. Ingesting even a small amount of hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoning in children.
  • If you suspect your child has ingested hand sanitizer, call a Poison Control Centre immediately. Do not wait for symptoms to develop.
  • Watch to ensure children do not rub their eyes when their hands are wet with sanitizer.
  • As long as the hand sanitizer has been rubbed in until completely dry, it is safe for children to eat with their hands or lick their hands.

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How long will the order be in effect?

The order is in effect from 12:01 a.m. on June 12, 2020 until rescinded by the Medical Officer of Health.

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