Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Kit Young Hoon, is hoping to clear-up any misconceptions about wearing a mask or face covering, ahead of their mandatory mask policy.

Last week the NWHU announced that as of August 17, all community members across northwestern Ontario will be required to wear a mask or face covering in any enclosed public space.

Young Hoon says many residents have asked how the mandatory mask policy will affect the reopening of local restaurants, and the difficulties community members may face while trying to keep compliant with the new requirement.

“Restaurants need to be able to ensure that there is physical distancing when people sit down to eat. They need to be at least two metres away from other people.”

“That would be the time for people to remove their mask, once they’re sitting, seated and eating, assuming that they’re not coming close to anyone else.”

“Employees in the restaurant and the people who serve food will need to wear a mask, because they will be coming in contact with many people,” explained Young Hoon, during a public question and answer period earlier this week.

Ontario says all patrons will be required to stay seated at all times, and bars and restaurants will need to keep client logs for 30 day periods to assist with contact tracing.

Residents are reminded that the use of face coverings must be paired with other personal protective measures, including physical distancing, hand washing, avoiding touching your face and staying home if you’re sick.

Public Health Physician Dr. John Guilfoyle with the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority has also provided tips on how to put on and remove your mask safely.

“Wash your hands before you put them on. When you put them on, put them over your ears, keep them over your nose and mouth, and don’t touch your mask.”

“If it gets wet, and it will eventually as we breathe through it, take it off by going behind your ear lobes, not touching the wet part, wash it in soap and water if its reusable, and air-dry it in the sun for 24 hours. Your mask will be fine.”

“If it’s a disposable mask, you need to dispose of the mask properly. You do not throw it aside or on the ground. Put it in a plastic garbage container so it doesn’t have the chance of infecting any other surfaces.”

“And when you take your mask off, whether it’s reusable or disposable, you wash your hands again, because you could have inadvertently gotten some of your respiratory secretions on to your hands.”

As of July 30, the Northwestern Health Unit is reporting 44 positive cases of the virus within the area, and 42 of those cases are considered resolved.

For more information:
Mandatory mask policy across the region coming in August
Face masks vital in fight against COVID-19, SLFNHA