On July 6, 2020, Medical Officers of Health from Eastern Ontario Health Unit; Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit; Renfrew County and District Health and Ottawa Public Health announced a regional approach to the use of face coverings/masks in enclosed public places within their respective jurisdictions. An Instruction was issued in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 and required businesses to adopt a policy to ensure facial coverings/masks are worn inside enclosed public spaces/settings that are openly accessible to the public. The Health Unit implemented numerous activities to support the implementation of the Instruction related to communication, consultation, and enforcement. A commitment to review the Instruction at the end of September, 2020 was made by Dr. Paula Stewart.
The review of the Instruction has identified that the risk of COVID-19 continues in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark with an increasing number of people infected with COVID-19 since late August; and upward trends in cases for all neighbouring health units, particularly the Ottawa Public Health region. A review of research evidence supports the use of face coverings/masks for source control by decreasing the amount of secretions from the mouth and nose that enter the air around the person. Research indicates that community use of face coverings/masks, combined with additional COVID-19 precautions like staying home when sick, covering coughs and sneezes, physical distancing and regular cleaning, helps to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Local surveys identified that almost all business operators in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark and the public have complied with the Instruction, and many have contacted us directly to express their strong support for the Instruction.
“After a careful review of research evidence, I have decided that the Face Covering/Mask Instruction for Leeds, Grenville and Lanark will continue as long as the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 is in effect,” states Dr. Paula Stewart, Medical Officer of Health. “Preventing COVID-19 is a community effort, and the continued use of face coverings or masks in enclosed public spaces and settings is one way that the community can work together to protect each other and prevent the spread of COVID-19. I am pleased that local business operators and the public have been complying with the Instruction.”
A link to the Instruction extension document will be available on our website: https://healthunit.org/health-information/covid-19.