Don’t forget your masks, Ottawa! After “seriously exploring” the idea of making face coverings a requirement, the City’s medical officer of health has confirmed that face masks will be mandatory in Ottawa’s indoor public spaces. It’s part of a regional approach across Ottawa and eastern Ontario.

Speaking to reporters last week, Ottawa’s medical officer of health said that the City was “seriously exploring” the idea of making face masks mandatory in the city.

On July 6, Dr. Vera Etches confirmed that appropriate face coverings will now be required in all indoor public spaces, starting Tuesday, July 7.

Sharing the announcement, Etches explained, “Increasing scientific evidence indicates that wearing a mask is an important measure in reducing COVID-19 transmission.”

“It is important to have a clear and consistent regionalized approach to mandatory masks across the Champlain region, especially as we are in the middle of peak travel season,” she added.

This means masks will be required in retail locations, such as malls, grocery stores and clothing stores, as well as community centres, libraries, and more. 

Exceptions will include children under the age of two, as well as people who have health or breathing problems.

"The policy will be enacted and enforced in good faith and will be primarily used as a means to educate people on mandatory mask use in enclosed public spaces," explained Ottawa Public Health.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson announced on July 3 that he would be "bringing forward a motion to create a bylaw mandating the use of cloth masks in indoor public spaces."

Council is expected to vote on this motion on July 15, which could institute a bylaw that requires Ottawans to "cover their nose, mouth and chin" with a cloth mask.

Until then, Dr. Etches has the power under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to introduce a face mask rule.

Last month, several areas in the GTA made a similar move.

Face coverings on the TTC also just became mandatory, and passengers could face fines of up to $195 if they're caught without adequate protection.

Ottawa Public Health continues to urge locals to wear face masks while out and about, and even threw some serious shade at Leafs fans to get their point across.

While the health agency acknowledged masks aren’t always convenient, they’re believed to be highly effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

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