Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law
Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law
On Wednesday, July 15, Ottawa City Council passed a temporary by-law requiring residents to wear masks in all enclosed public spaces, such as indoor public areas of recreational facilities, shopping malls, retail stores, restaurants and cafés. The mask requirement also applies to public transit property, including buses, trains, stations, shelters and platforms.
This requirement has been put into place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in indoor public spaces, especially as more businesses and services begin to reopen.
Whenever you enter the public areas of a building, you should wear a mask. Wearing a mask should always be combined with other protective measures such as physical distancing, hand washing, not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, and staying home if you are sick.
When other people wear a mask, they are helping to protect you.
Not everyone can wear a mask. Please be kind and respectful to people who are unable to wear a mask. We are in this together, and we will get through this pandemic by caring for our neighbours and looking out for each other.
For more details and resources on mandatory face masks:
FAQ for residents
Why is a mandatory mask by-law necessary?
Scientific evidence shows that wearing masks helps to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Since some people who are infected with COVID-19 may not know they have the virus, wearing a mask or face covering protects them from spreading the virus to you and to the people around you. Your mask protects them.
For more information about the public health benefits of wearing masks, where to find them, and instructions on their use, visit Ottawa Public Health.
Where am I required to wear masks?
You are required to wear a mask when in an indoor public setting, including:
- Public transit (buses, trains, platforms, stations and shelters)
- Restaurants, cafés, cafeterias, banquet halls
- Retail establishments and shopping malls
- Places of worship
- Libraries, museums, art galleries, recreational facilities, bingo halls, cinemas, theatres, concert venues, special event venues, convention centres, or other similar entertainment, cultural, or leisure facilities
- Sports facilities, sports clubs, gyms, yoga studios, dance studios, and stadiums
- Hotels, motels, or short-term rental premises
- Hospitals and independent health facilities
- Temporary facilities, such as construction trailers and temporary sales offices
- Municipal facilities, including City Hall, community centres, cultural, arts or leisure centres, recreational or sporting facilities, parks buildings, client service centres or indoor parking facilities.
Where is a face mask NOT required?
The by-law does not apply to areas of buildings that are not publicly accessible, such as offices accessible only to employees, or areas accessible only to passholders or keyholders, or designated personnel.
The by-law does not apply to schools, childcare centres, day camps or the offices of professionals such as lawyers and accountants where clients visit areas not open to the general public.
Who is NOT required to wear a mask under this by-law?
The by-law exempts young children and those who are unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition or disability that prevents them from safely wearing a mask. People who are unable to put on or remove their mask without the assistance of another person are also not required to wear a mask.
The by-law allows people to temporarily remove their mask for medical purposes, in order to eat, drink, swim, or receive services that require the removal of their mask.
Full details on who is exempt are available in the by-law.
How will the face covering by-law be enforced?
The City is taking an education-first approach to the by-law, asking people to comply and educating residents on how masks help us to protect one another.
Calling By-law and Regulatory Services should be a last resort.
When a warning is not deemed sufficient or for repeat offenders, enforcement of the by-law can include penalties through ticketing.
Do I have to show proof that I am exempt from the by-law?
No proof is required to show you are exempt from wearing a mask before entering an enclosed public space.
How do I report someone for not wearing a face covering?
Sometimes, what looks like a violation of the by-law is just a misunderstanding about what the by-law is asking us all to do. If anyone appears to be willfully contravening the by-law, residents should discuss the violation with the business operator first. After this, if residents wish to report that another resident or a local business is not in compliance with the By-law, they can do so by calling 3-1-1.
How long will this by-law be in effect?
The temporary by-law will be in effect until August 26th (or the next meeting of Council) and may be extended by City Council, based on the evolution of the pandemic.
Do I still need to stay 2 meters away from others if I am wearing a face mask?
Yes. Wearing a mask is not an alternative to physical distancing. Every effort should be made to keep a 2-metre distance even when wearing a mask.
FAQ for businesses
What are my obligations as a business operator under the by-law?
Operators of enclosed public spaces are required to post signs with specific messaging about the by-law at all public entrances to the building. By-law posters with the prescribed messaging are available for printing (a bilingual version is also available).
Operators must also provide alcohol-based hand rub at all public entrances.
If a client arrives without a mask, operators must notify them of the mask requirement as soon as possible after they enter the premises. This can occur at the door, or at the first client interaction.
If the client says they are exempt from the bylaw, they do not need to show proof and no further action is needed on behalf of the operator.
If a patron refuses to wear a mask and is not exempt from the by-law, a business operator may report the issue to the City for follow-up. This applies to patrons of businesses, and business employees as well.
Do employees need to wear a face covering in staff-only areas?
While in staff-only areas, staff are required to wear masks if they are unable to maintain a 2-metre distance.
In consultation with Ottawa Public Health, the City of Ottawa has developed a Business Reopening Toolkit to provide guidance and resources for to businesses. Additional workplace guidance and resources are also available.