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Mandatory masks starts in Niagara today – here's what you need to know

Law says mouth and nose must be covered
Signs need to be posted outside indoor establishments, informing about the new bylaw. Here at LCBO on Glendale Ave. in St Catharines. Photo: Ludvig Drevfjall/Thorold News

As of Friday, visitors to virtually all public indoor establishments in the Niagara region are required to wear face-coverings after a decision in the regional council.

The by-law does not specify what type of mask needs to be worn, but it does require that it covers both the mouth and nose.

"For the purposes of this by-law, a face covering shall mean a mask or other face covering, including a bandana or scarf constructed of cloth, linen or other similar fabric that fits securely to the head and is large enough to completely and comfortably cover the mouth, nose and chin without gaping," said the bylaw.

While most residents are able to wear a mask, Niagara Region is pleading for understanding with people who can't wear one.

"Be kind and respectful to people who can't wear a mask. We're in this together and this is one more way we can help to protect each other," a statement from the region said.

Here is who is exempt from the requirement:

  • Children under the age of five
  • A person who is unable to wear a face-covering as a result of a medical condition or a disability
  • A person who is unable to remove the face covering without help
  • A person who would have their breathing inhibited or restricted by wearing a face covering
  • A person while consuming food or drink provided by a business that is permitted to operate
  • A person receiving services involving the face
  • A person engaged in sport or other strenuous physical activity
  • A person while helping or accommodating another person with a hearing disability
  • Individuals working in an enclosed public space that isn't open for public access
  • Individuals working behind a physical barrier

The by-law doesn't apply to:

  • Daycares, schools, post-secondary institutions and other facilities used for educational purposes
  • Hospitals, independent health facilities and offices of regulated health professionals
  • Buildings and services owned and operated by the Province of Ontario or the Federal Government of Canada
  • An indoor area of a building that's accessible only to employees
  • Portions of buildings that are being used for the purpose of providing day camps for children or for the training of amateur or professional athletes

While consuming food or drink, you don't need to wear your face covering. If you're leaving your table for any reason, your face covering should be worn.

More information about the by-law can be found here.

On Friday, Niagara Region reported 5 new cases of COVID-19 after a week of significantly higher numbers than in recent months after 21 cases were found on Tuesday.