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Wearing a mask

Face mask regulations

Expiration of City’s Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law

Wearing a mask helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and helps protect people who are around you.

The City’s decision not to extend its own Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law beyond its expiration date of August 26, 2021 does not mean the need or requirement for masking will be abandoned. Province-wide masking regulations continue to be in effect. After the by-law’s expiration date, the City will follow provincial masking regulations in place at any given time after August 26.

Provincial mask regulations remain in place

The Ontario government website has information on masking and other regulations for Step 3 and beyond the reopening plan.

When the City of Ottawa enacted its by-law, a province-wide masking regulation was not in place. And after, the effective date of the by-law continued to be extended to provide additional support of overall provincial regulations.

So, don’t abandon your mask in your pocket, purse or car glove compartment yet. You will need to bring it with you to wear in stores, museums, malls, and the transit system – including OC Transpo buses, trains, stations, and on ParaTranspo minibuses and taxis. And not abiding by masking requirements will still carry fines.

In the future, the City can re-enact the by-law should the local situation or spread require a different approach from the rest of the province.

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)
  • Common areas of apartment and condo buildings, such as elevators and lobbies
  • Vehicles for hire, such as taxis, limousines and private transportation company vehicles
  • 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 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 January 2021 and may be extended by City Council, based on the evolution of the pandemic.

Do I still need to stay 2 metres 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 condo and apartment building operators

What are my obligations as a condo or apartment building under the by-law?

Condo and apartment building operators 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 residents says they are exempt from the by-law, they do not need to show proof.

If a resident refuses to wear a mask and is not exempt from the by-law, a building operator, resident or guest may report the issue to the City for follow-up.

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, by Provincial order, 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.