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Expanded Instruction will Protect the Community as HPEPH Enters Stage 3

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/July 15, 2020 – On Friday July 17, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) will enter Stage 3 of the province’s gradual reopening. As part of Stage 3, additional businesses and services will be permitted to reopen, with appropriate gathering limits and infection prevention and control measures in place. To support the safe and consistent opening of additional spaces in Stage 3, HPEPH is also providing expanded instruction and enhanced recommendations for certain industries.

Instructions for mandatory non-medical masks or face coverings in commercial establishments open to the public will remain in place at the current time. In addition, this instruction for mandatory face coverings has been broadened to include any enclosed indoor space that is open to the public, effective 12:01 am on Friday July 17. The complete instruction letter to establishments is available at hpePublicHealth.ca. As additional public spaces with high volumes of traffic flow are permitted to reopen as part of Stage 3, owners/operators of all enclosed indoor public spaces are instructed to develop policies for mandatory face coverings to support safe and consistent reopening in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties (HPEC).

“Members of our community have stepped up and made adjustments to their lives, businesses, and workplaces in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As additional establishments reopen, we must continue to work together to protect one another,” says Dr. Alexa Caturay, Acting MOH at HPEPH. “Beginning Friday, July 17, we are asking everyone to wear a face covering in any enclosed indoor space that is open to the public. This additional precaution helps protect those around you from potential spread of the virus.”

HPEPH continues to recognize that certain individuals may be unable to wear or access a face covering. HPEPH does not expect establishments to request proof of exemption from these individuals.  HPEPH expects and requests the cooperation of employers, employees, and patrons, in ensuring that these instructions are carried out with respect and kindness.

Changes that are being made as part of Stage 3 are intended to help resume economic and social activity while maintaining appropriate precautions and safety procedures. HPEPH reminds all residents that the pandemic is not over, and there continues to be a risk of COVID-19 in the community.

  • For a complete list Stage 3 inclusions and exclusions, please visit Ontario.ca.
  • For additional information about Stage 3 in HPEC, please review the attached Q&A.
  • For additional information about mandatory face coverings and exemptions, visit hpePublicHealth.ca.

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Media Contact:

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist
etubbs@hpeph.ca

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit hpePublicHealth.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Q & A – Stage 3 in HPEC

What changes will take place in HPEC as part of Stage 3?

Additional businesses and services are permitted to reopen, as long as appropriate gathering limits and infection prevention and control measures are in place. As additional establishments are permitted to open, HPEPH is expanding requirements for mandatory face coverings to include all enclosed indoor public spaces, as well as recommending enhanced best practises for certain industries, such as record keeping.

The following venues are not included in Stage 3 reopening, and will continue to remain prohibited for the time being:

  • Amusement parks and water parks
  • Buffet-style food services
  • Dancing at restaurants and bars other than hired performers
  • Overnight stays at camps for children
  • Private Karaoke rooms
  • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports
  • Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses, oxygen bars
  • Table games at casinos and gaming establishments

Does entering Stage 3 mean we are at a lower risk than in Stage 2?

Changes that are being made as part of Stage 3 are intended to encourage economic and social activity while maintaining appropriate precautions and safety procedures. It is important to remember that the pandemic is not over, and there continues to be a risk of COVID-19 in the community.

Will Stage 3 result in changes to recent instruction regarding mandatory face coverings?

An updated instruction to local establishments was issued on Wednesday, July 15, to address the newest stage of reopening. Instructions for non-medical masks or face coverings in commercial establishments open to the public will remain in place at the current time. In addition, this instruction for mandatory face coverings will be broadened to include any enclosed indoor public space that is open to the public.

Instruction for mandatory face coverings was initially provided to commercial establishments as it can be challenging to maintain physical distancing in these settings, and there is a higher volume of foot traffic from areas experiencing higher rates of COVID-19. As additional enclosed public spaces with high volumes of traffic are permitted to reopen as part of Stage 3, owners/operators of these spaces are also instructed to develop policies for mandatory face coverings as part of Stage 3 reopening.

How and when should face coverings be used in indoor dining settings?

Members of the public are permitted to temporarily remove their face covering where necessary for the purpose of receiving services such as eating or drinking. HPEPH instructs that patrons keep face coverings on until they are seated at a table, and wear face coverings any time they are moving through a shared space (to/from table, restroom, etc.). Staff at dining establishments must always wear face coverings when in a public space. 

All individuals must ensure they wash their hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after removing the mask or face covering. HPEPH encourages all patrons to carry hand sanitizer when visiting public spaces, to ensure their hands are clean before touching their face covering.

Are there any other requirements for indoor dining settings?

Individuals must be seated when eating or drinking at any indoor establishment. In addition, the establishment must be configured so that patrons seated at different tables are separated by a distance of at least 2 metres, or by a plexiglass or other impermeable barrier.

No person shall dance, sing or perform music at the establishment except in accordance with strict rules including social distancing, use of a barrier, cleaning and disinfection, and limiting the number of attendees.

What is the recommendation for face coverings when in gyms or exercising in an enclosed public space?

When participating in indoor physical activity/exercise, face coverings should be used by patrons and staff, as frequently as can be tolerated. If an activity or exertion level does not allow for a face covering, members of the public are permitted to remove their face covering temporarily, but should put it on again when the strenuous activity is complete (for example: when stretching, travelling through shared space).

Both patrons and staff should wash their hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after removing a face covering. Physical distancing must continue to take place in shared indoor spaces such as gyms, and frequent hand washing should be encouraged.

Social gatherings of 50 people (indoors) and 100 people (outdoors) are permitted as part of Stage 3. Are masks recommended in these gatherings?

Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses. A two-metre distance must continue to be maintained at such events. In addition, indoor and outdoor event limits can not be combined.

HPEPH continues to recommend a non-medical mask or face covering as an additional layer of precaution in all situations where physical distancing may be difficult.

Are face coverings mandatory in condominiums or apartment buildings?

Condominiums and/or apartment buildings are not included in the current instruction from the Acting Medical Officer of Health for mandatory face coverings in public settings. However, the management of these facilities may choose to implement policies or procedures for shared spaces, which could include mandatory face coverings and/or other infection control procedures. HPEPH continues to recommend face coverings in any situation where physical distancing is a challenge.

What is HPEPH doing to support individuals who are unable to wear a mask?

HPEPH recognizes that certain individuals may be unable to wear or access a face covering. HPEPH does not expect establishments to request proof of exemption from these individuals. HPEPH continues to ask for the cooperation of establishments and community members to carry out these instructions with respect and kindness.

What is the evidence available that supports wearing of masks?

Dr. Alexa Caturay, Acting Medical Officer of Health for HPEPH, continues to review emerging evidence, as well as the local environment. Public Health Ontario has compiled a summary of evidence available on masks: COVID-19 – What we know so far about… wearing masks in public.

What can community members do to support and protect one another as we move into Stage 3?

We continue to encourage all local residents, employers, and employees to respect requirements for physical distancing, hand hygiene, mandatory face coverings as well as medical exemptions from face coverings.

All public health interventions such as gathering limits, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and use of face coverings will continue to help slow or stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community. As many businesses and services resume operations, more people are out and about in the community. Together with community and health care partners, all residents must continue to be vigilant to prevent and act quickly when those cases present.

Do employers have any additional responsibilities under Stage 3?

Enhanced Record Keeping:

Owners/operators of indoor public spaces such as restaurants, theatres, personal service settings, and places of worship, are encouraged to keep a record of patrons. These records are solely intended to support the contact tracing efforts of public health in the event of a positive case in the community. While record keeping is suggested as a best practise at this time, this practise may become a requirement in the coming weeks. Local risks will continue to be monitored and instruction will be updated as appropriate. It is sufficient to collect the name and phone number of one member from each group of patrons, and retain this information for one month. At this time, this recommendation does not apply to outdoor settings such as patios, concession stands, and farmers’ markets.

Washrooms, Change Rooms and Common Areas:

Stage 3 regulations indicate that any washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers or similar amenities made available to the public should be cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition.

Fitting rooms in a business are permitted to open, as long as individuals are not occupying adjacent fitting rooms at the same time.

Hand Hygiene and Physical Distancing:

As we move into Stage 3, hand hygiene and physical distancing remain essential practises to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Employers are reminded to ensure appropriate hand washing supplies (soap and water, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer) are available to both employees and patrons.

Mandatory Face Coverings:

As outlined above, as part of Stage 3, instruction from the Acting Medical Officer of Health regarding mandatory face coverings will expand from indoor commercial establishments, to all enclosed indoor public spaces.

HPEPH continues to encourage and promote respect for everyone in our communities as we enter Stage 3. Employers are asked to support employees by providing appropriate training, supplies, and accommodation when appropriate. Employers are also asked to lead by example and continue to implement appropriate procedures to encourage physical distancing, hand hygiene, infection control, and mandatory face coverings (in enclosed public spaces).

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We are working to respond to community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are concerned about potential exposure to a positive case of COVID-19, please be reassured that any contacts of a confirmed case will be contacted directly and monitored by public health.

Low-risk and indirect contacts should self monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the time of potential exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop. Low risk contacts do not need to isolate unless symptoms develop, and can continue to attend school/work/daycare while monitoring for symptoms.

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