Mandatory masking coming next week

Eastern Ontario Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis speaks to reporters on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Roumeliotis says his health unit is working with Leeds-Grenville, Ottawa and Renfrew counterparts to put a mandatory masking regulation in public places and businesses sometime next week. (EOHU/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – Be ready for mandatory masking up in public places starting sometime early next week.

Details are being worked out to do a collaborative regulation between the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, the Leeds-Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit and the health units in Ottawa and Renfrew, EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis told reporters Tuesday.

Roumeliotis says the health unit has received “a lot of complaints and requests actually by the public” by email “requesting that we implement mandatory masking in public indoor places, particularly businesses.”

“I do believe that masks are quite warranted,” he said.

“We (the health units) will be preparing and and having a press release next week. We are preparing protocols in place for directives and orders and/or bylaws depending on which way. We will be instituting mandatory masking,” he said.

Roumeliotis says he wants people to get used to it now instead of waiting to be told to mask up.

“We want people to get used to it…to have it as a norm…as an expectation. There will be enforcement with this, there will be penalties and so on, but we want people to be educated. There will be a bit of a grace period,” he said.

Roumeliotis told Newswatch he expects, with the exception of Ottawa, the health units will enact a clause under the emergency order to enforce masking as opposed to each health unit having a Section 22 order or having each municipality pass a bylaw.

He expects Ontario’s emergency order to be extended far beyond July 10 but, if it’s not, then the health units would revert to a Section 22 order.

But in the meantime, “please don’t wait for our orders. You should wear a mask wherever you go indoors,” Roumeliotis said.