Earlier this summer, several Ontario municipalities established bylaws requiring businesses to ensure masks or face coverings are worn by the public in enclosed public spaces (see our earlier article here). On October 3, 2020, the Ontario government amended the Rules for Areas in Stage 3, O Reg 364/20 (the “amended regulation”), establishing similar requirements for most Ontario businesses, summarized below.
Who Must Wear Masks or Face Coverings?
Generally speaking, businesses and organizations must ensure that anyone located in an indoor area within their premises, or within a vehicle that is operating as part of the business or organization, wears a mask that covers their mouth, nose, and chin.
The amended regulation establishes many exceptions, most notably the following (many of which involve persons who are subject to their own unique public health measures):
- Children who are under two years of age or attending childcare
- Persons attending school within the meaning of the Education Act
- Persons in custody or in a correctional institution
- Persons rehearsing or performing in certain artistic performances or productions
- Persons that have a medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering
- Persons unable to administer their mask or face covering without the assistance of another
- Persons who are temporarily removing their mask or face covering to:
(1) receive services that require the removal of their mask or face covering,
(2) engage in an athletic or fitness activity, or
(3) consume food or drink
- Persons being accommodated under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and/or the Human Rights Code
- Persons performing work for the business or organization who are in an area that is not accessible to members of the public and who are able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person while in the indoor area
The amended regulation specifically states that it is not necessary for a person to present evidence to establish that they are entitled to any of the above exceptions.
Municipal Bylaws Still Apply
Many businesses and organizations will be subject to both provincial and municipals laws concerning masks and face coverings. These provincial and federal laws are generally consistent, but there are some minor differences. Businesses and organizations who have questions about how to handle discrepancies between the provincial and municipal laws should consult with their legal counsel.
Ontario employers must ensure that their employees are familiar with the new provincial requirements and should continue to monitor for compliance until further notice.
Many thanks to Claudia Lach for her assistance in drafting this article.