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What the mask by-law means for residents, in seven simple steps

July 16, 2020
Feature Stories

The City’s new Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law affects everyone.

two men, doing business, wearing masks

Although masks are now mandatory, our top priority is promoting awareness of the by-law, and encouraging voluntary compliance to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This by-law is one of the many measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus in our community. Individuals should continue to:

  • Stay home when sick
  • Exercise proper hand hygiene
  • Avoid touching their face
  • Stay 2m (6ft) away from others when outside of your household

Fines and intervention from By-law Enforcement Officers are last resorts in the event that warnings are insufficient or for repeat offenders.

Ottawa residents have done an extraordinary job in decreasing the spread of COVID-19, but the virus is not gone. If we work together to physically distance and take measures like wearing a mask, we can help reduce the spread, protect our most vulnerable residents, and ensure local businesses can remain open.

  1. The rule
    You must wear a mask when in enclosed public spaces. This applies to anyone who enters an enclosed public space, whether you are an employee or customer, a worker or a visitor.
  2. Your mask
    The mask should securely cover your nose, mouth and chin. For a list of appropriate masks, how to wear a mask and where to get one see
  3. The reason
    Masks help reduce the spread of COVID-19. They are not a replacement for keeping a physical distance of 2-meters, frequent hand washing and staying home when you’re sick. Learn more about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  4. Exemptions
    Children under two and people unable to wear a mask for medical reasons are exempt. For a complete list of exemptions, see the by-law.
  5. You can remove your mask if…
    You are swimming, exercising, eating, drinking or engaging in strenuous physical activity. Please follow public health guidelines on how to safely remove your mask, at
  6. People in charge
    If you operate a business or organization in an enclosed public space, you must ensure your employees and clients wear masks when they are in public spaces, unless they are separated from each other by a plexiglass or other type of barrier. You also need to provide hand sanitizer and post a sign about the mask requirement. For a complete list of your obligations, see FAQ for businesses.
  7. Be COVIDkind
    Please be respectful to people who are unable to wear a mask. We are in this together, and we will get through this pandemic by looking out for each other.

    These are new rules and it will take time to educate everyone in our community. Sometimes, what looks like a violation of the by-law is just a misunderstanding. If anyone appears to be willfully contravening the by-law, residents should first consider discussing the violation with whomever is in charge of the enclosed public space. After this, if residents wish to report someone who is violating the by-law, you can call 3-1-1.

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