ATIKOKAN, Ont. – Mandatory mask requirements that have spread through the rest of the province’s north are now coming to communities under the jurisdiction of the Northwestern Health Unit, which include Kenora, Dryden, Rainy River, and Sioux Lookout.
The health unit is the last in Northern Ontario to issue a mandatory masks order, which will require face coverings in enclosed public spaces including private businesses to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The order goes into effect on Aug. 17. The health unit’s new medical officer of health, Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, said the lead time would allow businesses to prepare for the change.
“Over the next few weeks we will be working with our partners and local businesses to ensure they receive the support and resources needed to implement this change,” he said in a release issued Tuesday morning.
Young-Hoon framed the order as a response to Stage 3 reopening, as well as a precautionary measure given concerns of a potential “second wave” of the virus later this fall.
“By wearing masks when in indoor public spaces, we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and increase the likelihood of local businesses being able to stay open by keeping our case numbers low,” Young-Hoon said.
The health unit noted masks must be paired with other protective measures including physical distancing, hand washing, avoiding touching your face, and staying home if one is sick.