Social Distancing, a very contradicting term, has made its mark in our vocabulary the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside that are a new set of rules to be followed when going out of our homes where the risk of contracting the virus is high. Social gatherings are put on hold and a new mask mandate is implemented in various parts of Canada even in indoor public spaces, including: Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Manitoba, as announced on Tuesday, November 24.
Entry to public spaces like malls, grocery stores, coffee shops, retail stores, restaurants, churches, and public transportation will require mandatory mask-wearing. Common areas even in workspaces and living places like condos and apartments are included. Various news about violators have circulated around different provinces, especially Quebec, which also moved to ban karaoke when 80 new COVID-19 cases were traced in the span of one night. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business accepts the new fines because the responsibility is also shifted to customers more than just business owners. In this province, a seven-day average or above 20 cases per million, was reached, hence the stricter penalties.
Fines can reach up to $2,500 for people who refuse to comply with wearing a mask in public spaces or show irresponsible and abusive behavior. Masks can be taken off temporarily when eating or drinking but must be kept on at all times to prevent the spread of the virus especially in places where social distancing is not altogether possible. Curbing the spread is the main goal of the government with the country’s on-going battle with the pandemic that affected the lives of many.
For reference, a covering is considered a mask if it is “a medical or non-medical mask that covers the nose and mouth.” While face shields are also worn at times for added protection, it cannot be a substitute for a face mask because of the opening below the mouth. The only exemptions to the rule are those people who are unable to put on or remove masks on their own, other reasons include psychological, behavioral, or health conditions. People in perfect health are required to wear a mask, especially those who are feeling under the weather. While wearing a mask is mandatory in public, it is still advisable to stay at home and avoid going out for unnecessary reasons.
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