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Mississauga’s mandatory mask bylaw: what employers should know

Effective July 10, 2020, face coverings will be mandatory for many indoor public spaces in the City of Mississauga.   The requirement may spread to the entire Region of Peel. Toronto already has a similar bylaw, and other municipalities are also strongly considering them to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Under the bylaw, the face covering may be made of cloth, linen or similar fabric that covers the nose, mouth and chin without gaping.   It does not need to be a medical mask, but you may wear a medical mask if you choose.  Children under 2 years old, and children between 3 and 5 who cannot be persuaded to wear the face covering, are exempt.  People may also be exempt if they are unable to wear face coverings for medical reasons, are in a restaurant eating or drinking, or are testifying in court or during a tribunal proceeding, among other reasons.

The face covering requirement applies in indoor spaces where the public is ordinarily invited, regardless of whether a fee is charged for entry.  This includes malls, retail stores, restaurants, places of worship, gyms, libraries, and other essential businesses that the Province of Ontario is permitting to operate.

However, people are not required to wear face coverings in the following places (among others): schools and school transportation vehicles (i.e., school buses), hospitals, certain provincial and federal buildings, and buildings or parts of buildings that are used primarily for providing day camps to children.

The challenge for employers is that you are expected to enforce these face covering rules at your premises. Under the bylaw, if you operate an establishment in Mississauga where face coverings are mandatory, you must:

  • adopt a face covering policy to ensure that nobody is allowed to enter your establishment without a face covering, unless the person is exempted
  • provide the policy upon inspection
  • not allow a person to enter or remain at your establishment without a face covering
  • post a notice about the requirement to wear face coverings at entrances to your establishment.

Employers beware, a contravention of the Mississauga bylaw may result in a fine of up to $100,000.

Although Ontario has made great progress in curbing the spread of COVID-19, as the pandemic evolves, employers must remain flexible in adopting and implementing COVID-19 related policies.  Employers operating in other municipalities and regions should be alert to new local bylaws (Toronto, for example, has rules that are quite similar to Mississauga’s) and ensure they are complying.