“We’ve been getting a lot of requests,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chief medical officer for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU). “I do believe that masks are warranted.”
During his June 30 media teleconference, Dr. Roumeliotis explained that the EOHU and the public health units for the City of Ottawa, Leeds-Grenville, and Renfrew County, are joining forces to work out a common policy and guidelines for mandatory masking during the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy should be ready to announce next week and it will apply to people who are inside public buildings and private businesses. The guidelines will include penalties for failing to mask up.
“We will recommend mandatory masking,” said Dr. Roumeliotis. “There will be penalties. There will be enforcement.”
The decision by Eastern Ontario’s public health units for mandatory masking was sparked by recent outbreaks of COVID-19 in Kingston, Windsor, and Toronto at public beaches and various businesses like hair salons, which reopened to the public as part of Phase Two of Ontario’s economic restart plan to begin the provincial recovery from the pandemic.
“We want to send a message that we are protecting each other,” Dr. Roumeliotis said, regarding the mandatory masking policy.
He also noted the various huge outbreaks of COVID-19 in parts of the United States where some states began relaxing their pandemic public health precautions. Florida alone had 9000 new cases of the disease following reopening of its public beaches, during which there were many incidents of people failing to social distance or observe other public health safety measures.
“Let’s learn from the U.S.,” Dr. Roumeliotis said. “They rushed into it too soon and they’re paying the price for it.”