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Ottawa health officials examining mandatory mask rule for indoor public spaces

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches hopes to have more information on how the city might proceed with the matter by the end of the week.
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Facemasks could soon be mandatory for residents to wear in any indoor public space like grocery stores, pharmacies, city facilities or small businesses.

The latest data collected by Ottawa Public Health shows that 71 per cent of residents already wear masks in public spaces where social distancing is a challenge.

Up until Monday, June 29, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches says she's been happy with the approach of encouraging mask wearing, rather than demanding it.

"People doing the right thing because they want to do the right thing works the best. That's what I expect to continue," she explains.

However, the doctor follows that by saying, a rule about mask wearing "might provide a bit more clarity about how to do that." 

"Many businesses are looking for clear direction around whether masks are required or not," she says. "So a step toward making masks mandatory indoors, where people cannot maintain two metres [distance] from each other, is also about leveling the playing field -- so that all businesses have the same standards, they all know, 'This is what we have to do to protect our employees and our patrons.' And then the public knows that whatever business you're going to, that's the expectation."

Ottawa health officials say they are consulting members of the community, the medical community, the business community, and local politcal leaders about the issue before making any firm decision on making masks mandatory.

City Councillor and Chair of the Ottawa Board of Health Keith Egli thinks a new rule could send a message that it is important to hold onto the progress we've made in squashing COVID-19 locally, and that we need to keep pushing the city forward.

Dr. Etches plans to have more information on a potential decision later this week.




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Mike Vlasveld

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Mike Vlasveld, Village Media Community Editor, OttawaMatters.com
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