covid 19 4

Hub Staff

As the region prepares to move into Stage 3 of reopening Friday, the Grey Bruce Health Unit has enacted an Order requiring face coverings in public places "to the fullest extent possible."

On July 13 Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson announced that nearly all businesses will be able to open as of July 17. “Moving forward to Stage 3 is a direct result of how residents and businesses in Huron-Bruce have been so responsible and reliable, during this pandemic,” said Thompson, adding that safety precautions must still be practised.

Stage 3 also means that indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people while outdoor gatherings will increase to a maximum of 100 people; both with physical distancing requirements still in place.

Public health and other officials have advised that "high-risk" places are not yet safe to open such as amusement parks, buffet-style food services, dancing at restaurants and bars, overnight camps for children, prolonged or deliberate contact in sports, facilities such as saunas and steam rooms, and table games at casinos and other gaming establishments.

In conjunction with Stage 3, Grey Bruce Health Unit's Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ian Arra issued the Order which requires all commercial establishments within the GBHU catchment to ensure effective measures are in place to maintain physical distancing as well as ensuring the availability of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and making the "best effort" to restrict people from entering or remaining in the premises without a face covering.

"Turning away or refusing a customer [who is not wearing a face covering] is not required under this Order," read a July 14 media release from GBHU.

In an earlier release, GBHU stated that exemptions for face coverings will be allowed for children under 2 years of age or under 5 years "either chronologically or developmentally unable to tolerate face coverings, or refuses to wear a face covering," as well as people who can't tolerate face coverings due to medical conditions "or any reason under the Human Rights Code."

There is no need to provide a medical note and there is "no such thing as a COVID-19 Face Mask Medical Exemption Card or anything similar," stated GBHU, later saying that exemption cards that are being sold are a scam.

The Order, which will remain in place for four weeks with the possibility to renew, providing time to develop more permanent solutions such as municipal by-laws or provincial regulations, will only apply to areas within an establishment that are normally accessible to the general public.

In an email to Saugeen Shores Hub, Dr Ian Arra offered further clarification.

"If a business wanted to refuse entry to someone for not wearing a face covering, they cannot do so citing the Order," wrote Arra, adding that staff in businesses more often than not are not trained to conduct enforcement and doing so could cause a situation to escalate into one "that none of us want."

Arra explained that the Order was not designed for enforcement, but rather to increase awareness of the community to prompt positive choice. He went on to say that evidence suggests that most people comply and "do the right thing" without the need for enforcement.

In an FAQ provided by GBHU, where an establishment has a person restricting occupancy into the premises, a verbal reminder that the customer should be wearing a face covering shall be given to any customer entering the premises without one. For customers in a premise seen removing their face covering for extended periods of time, a verbal reminder to that customer of the requirement to wear face coverings is suggested.

Masks have been made available to establishments in Grey and Bruce counties through a donation from Bruce Power. Over 100,000 one-time use masks were donated to local organizations including Chambers of Commerce and food banks. Over July and August 30,000 re-usable masks will be distributed by the company and through July and August smaller organizations will be able to use Bruce Power's bulk buying power. Email for more information.

There is continued evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 in Grey Bruce not connected with facility outbreaks or travel.

COVID-19 may be transmitted from individuals who have minimal or no signs or symptoms of illness and is transmitted from person to person predominantly through respiratory droplets that are released from the nose and mouth, through contact with contaminated surfaces, and through poor hand hygiene.

In addition to proper hand washing and surface cleaning, evidence suggests that the widespread use of face coverings by all persons decreases the spread of respiratory droplets, decreasing the transmission of COVID-19.

A medical or non-medical mask or other face coverings such as a bandana, scarf or cloth that covers the mouth, nose and chin ensures a barrier and while it cannot guarantee protection from the virus, it limits the transmission of infectious respiratory droplets.

Additional measures include frequent hand washing, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, avoiding groups of people and crowded spaces, practicing physical distancing and staying at home if you are sick.

Wearing a mask is not an alternative to physical distancing and it is the responsibility of the business to enable members of the public to physically distance "to the fullest extent possible."

Self or parental declaration is sufficient to be exempt from wearing face coverings.

In addition to children as specified above, any person who is incapacitated and unable to remove their mask without assistance is also exempt. Anyone to whom a face covering would inhibit their ability to breathe in any way or who cannot safely wear a mask due to respiratory disease, cognitive difficulties or difficulties hearing or processing information is also exempt.

To view the full FAQ for Wearing Masks and Face Coverings by Public Health Grey Bruce, visit

For more information on Stage 3, visit

Individuals and commercial operators can contact the Grey Bruce Health Unit COVID-19 Helpline with specific question or concerns at 519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456 ext. 3000.