London-Middlesex is in the Red/Control category of the Provincial Keeping Ontario Safe and Open framework. A number of City facilities have reopened to the public for in-person programs and services.
Yesterday, City of London Municipal Law Enforcement Officers issued two Provincial Offence Notices to a restaurant business operator and employee found breaching the Mandatory Face Covering By-Law.
Under the Mandatory Face Covering By-Law, with some exceptions, anyone including employees, customers and visitors entering an indoor public space is required to wear a mask or face covering while inside. Business owners or operators of enclosed public spaces are also required under the by-law to post visible signs which indicate the face covering by-law requirement.
Fines for failing to comply with the by-law are set at $500 and may be applied to individuals, either customers or employees, not wearing a face covering or mask or to businesses that do not have proper signage displayed.
“We remain focused on education, but part of that education also includes enforcement as necessary,” says Mayor Ed Holder. “The vast majority of Londoners, and London businesses have set an extremely high standard when it comes to respecting public health guidelines, and we have every intention of maintaining that standard going forward. While not our preference, we will not hesitate to issue fines and charges to those who refuse to adjust their behaviours thereby placing at risk the health and wellbeing of others.”
The Mandatory Face Coverings By-law came into effect on July 21 following City Council approval, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, as an additional measure to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Since then, Municipal Law Enforcement Officers initiated a proactive education enforcement approach, visiting businesses and speaking to business operators and the public on the requirements of the by-law. Officers have visited over 2110 establishments and given warnings to 105 individuals, including customers and employees found not complying with the by-law.
“We are fortunate that we continue to see high compliance with the by-law with the majority of business operators and the public understanding and following the requirements,” says Chief By-Law Officer, Orest Katolyk. “We understand this is a difficult time for Londoners but this by-law remains in effect to help protect the community and stop the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to visit businesses and identified hot spots including restaurants and bars in the downtown core and use enforcement action to issue fines as necessary.”
Under the by-law, masks and face coverings can include a conventional mask or a face covering such as a bandana, scarf, cloth or similar item that covers the nose, mouth and chin without gapping.
Exemptions to the by-law include those who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, children under the age of 12, and other accommodations under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Residents are not required to show proof of exemption from the wearing a mask or face covering under the by-law. The by-law also permits the temporary removal of a mask or face covering when receiving services, having a meal, or engaging in athletic or fitness activity. Full details on further exemptions are available in the by-law.
Londoners are reminded that wearing a mask or face covering is not an alternative to safe physical distancing. Every effort should be made to keep a two-metre distance even when wearing a mask. Wearing a face covering should always be combined with other health measures such proper hand washing or sanitizing, not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, and staying home if you are sick.
Residents with concerns about businesses and individuals who are not following COVID-19 related orders or the by-law can contact COVIDOrderConcerns@london.ca or call 519-661-4660.