Mandatory Face Coverings in Public Spaces By-law

The City of Brantford remains committed to ensuring the health and safety of all residents by implementing preventative measures and public health best practices to reduce the risk of Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 community spread.

In concert with the provincial Phase 3 reopening plan, effective as of July 17, 2020 wearing a face covering will be required in public indoor spaces in the city of Brantford under the Mandatory Face Coverings By-law . The new by-law requires a face covering be worn in all enclosed public spaces in the city, including all City of Brantford facilities and public transit.

Based on emerging public health best practices, a combination of frequent hand washing, physical distancing, staying home when feeling unwell, and wearing a non-medical (cloth) face covering are all public health measures that together are proven to help contain the spread of Novel Coronavirus COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. The infection spreads from close contact (less than 6 ft) with someone with COVID-19 through their respiratory droplets or touching our face with virus contaminated hands. Respiratory droplets can include coughing, sneezing, talking or even normal breathing. When a person is singing, laughing or talking loudly, the droplets can travel even further than 2 metres/ 6 ft.

What’s more, people who do not have symptoms (asymptomatic) or have yet to develop symptoms (pre-symptomatic) may unknowingly pass the infection to others. The highest risk for infection is with prolonged unprotected close contact.

Let’s take care of each other

As the City of Brantford moves into Stage 3 of reopening, more people are gathering, returning to work, moving around the city and using public transit. Naturally, more people in public at any given time will make physical distancing (remaining 6 ft apart from others at all times) more challenging, and in some cases impossible.

The CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Non-medical face coverings can help keep your respiratory droplets to yourself and protect others when we are unable to maintain physical distancing.

Wearing face coverings indoors helps us keep our respiratory droplets to ourselves to prevent spreading germs to others. There is evidence that cloth masks can reduce the spread of respiratory droplets into the air and landing on surfaces. Jurisdictions that have legislated mandatory masks have seen a decrease in new COVID-19 cases.

Simply put, the use of face coverings can help save lives. 

Face Covering By-law Questions and Answers

Are face coverings effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19?

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings or talks. Droplets can travel up to 2 metres (6 feet) so wearing a face covering that covers your mouth, nose, and chin will help prevent respiratory droplets from reaching others or landing on surfaces. Wearing a face covering when in public spaces protects others from your respiratory droplets. This is especially important in situations where physical distancing is difficult or inconsistent such as retail establishments.

It is important to note that face coverings must be used in combination with frequent hand washing, not touching your face and physical distancing in public.

How do I choose a proper face covering?

An effective cloth face covering should:

  • Be at least two layers of tightly woven cotton or linen
  • Cover over nose, mouth and chin, and be easy to breathe through
  • Fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops without gaping or impairing vision
  • Be comfortable to avoid the need for adjustments when wearing
  • Maintain their shape after washing and drying
  • Not contain non-breathable materials such as plastic

For instructions on how to make a face covering using fabric, a t-shirt or a bandana, please review the instructions featured on the Government of Canada website.

What is the proper way to wear/take off a face covering?
  • Do not share your face covering with others
  • Wash your hands before putting on and after taking off a mask
  • Place the face covering over your nose, mouth and chin
  • Avoid touching your face and face covering while using it
  • Change your face covering as soon as it is moist or dirty
  • Do not leave your face covering tucked under the chin, hanging from your ear, or on your forehead
  • Remove the face covering by the ear loops without touching the front of the face covering
  • Put used face covering(s) in a plastic bag or directly in the laundry bin to be washed
  • Launder cloth face coverings after use with other items using the hot cycle and dryer
  • Dispose of disposable face coverings (one-time use) in a sealed garbage. Do not expose others in public to a used face covering and be kind to the environment by disposing in a sealed bag properly. Thank you. 

Additional Resources

  1. How to wear a non-medical face covering properly - VIDEO
  2. Download the poster of the do’s and don’ts of wearing a non-medical face covering
Who is required to wear a face covering under this by-law?
Any customer, patron, employee or visitor, who enters an enclosed public place must wear a mask except for those who are exempt.
Who is exempt from wearing a face covering?

The by-law exempts:

  • a child who is under the age of 2 years old
  • a child between the ages of 3 and 5 who refuses to wear a face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver
  • a person who is unable to put on or remove a face covering without assistance
  • a person with a medical condition or other disability that inhibits their ability to wear a face covering, including persons who are reasonably accommodated pursuant to the (Ontario) Human Rights Code by not wearing a face covering
  • employees or agents of the owner or operator of any enclosed public place within or behind a physical barrier or within an area designated for them and to which the general public is not invited
  • any paramedic, fire fighter or police officer acting in the course of their duties

The City asks that residents be honest about the exemptions outlined above, and that fellow citizens be respectful of those who are exempt. Let's not shame each other, but rather take care of each other.  

The City is aware of fraudulent “Face Covering Exempt Cards” that are being circulated/sold online. There is no such legitimate card as showing proof of exemption is not required.

Does the by-law require business owners to turn away people who are not wearing a face covering?

Both individuals and business owners/operators have a responsibility to ensure that the individual in an indoor, public place is wearing a face covering. The business owner may refuse entry if the individual is not wearing a face covering and does not fit within one of the exemptions in the by-law.

The City is employing an education first approach to by-law enforcement of the Mandatory Face Covering By-law; however, if a business owner/operator is regularly permitting entry to persons without face coverings the business owner could be charged for non compliance with the by-law. If an individual is simply refusing to comply with the by-law and is not exempt, the individual can be fined. If both are at fault for breaching the by-law, both could be fined.

Businesses also have the right to create additional standards over and above the City's by-law, pursuant to the Trespass to Property Act and their responsibilities under the Occupier’s Liability Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. 

Are business owners/operators required to ask for proof of exemption?

No. The by-law does not require people to provide proof of an exemption.

The City is aware of fraudulent “Face Covering Exempt Cards” that are being circulated/sold online. There is no such legitimate card as showing proof of exemption is not required.

Where is wearing a face covering required?

Face coverings are required in the following locations:

  • Brantford Transit Buses, bus shelters
  • Stores and shopping malls
  • Indoor areas of restaurants and bars, with the exception of patrons consuming food/drink
  • Professional services such as counselling, personal care, funeral homes, repair and rental services
  • Lobby areas of commercial buildings
  • Hotels and motels, with the exception of rented rooms
  • Laundromats
  • Indoor areas of fitness centres, gyms and recreational and sports facilities
  • Indoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas
  • Arcades and other indoor amusement facilities
  • Museums, galleries, historic sites, etc.
  • Public areas of places of worship
  • Municipal buildings
Are people required to wear a face covering while working out at a public gym?
No. As per section 5 of the by-law that reads: “the temporary removal of face coverings mandated within public areas is permitted where necessary for the purpose of receiving services, which includes the consumption of food or drink, or while actively engaged in a strenuous athletic or fitness activity.”
Are people required to wear a face covering in the lobby of a private residential condo or apartment building?
No. People are not required to wear a face covering in the lobby of a private building meant for residents only. For example, apartment entrances that require a code access or a key, would not be considered a public space. If the lobby or space is a common area where members of the general public gather, a face covering is required.
Where is a face covering NOT required?

The City’s municipal by-law does not apply to:

  • federal or provincial buildings
  • colleges, universities or schools
  • hospitals or healthcare facilities
  • offices of regulated health professionals
  • employee-only areas of businesses and other buildings
  • outdoor areas in streets, parks, sports facilities and patios
  • Child care facilities and day camps
  • Care facilities for the elderly and people with disabilities
How is the by-law applied to indoor dining establishments?

As per section 5 of the by-law: “the temporary removal of face coverings mandated within public areas is permitted where necessary for the purpose of receiving services, which includes the consumption of food or drink.”

However, face coverings are required to enter and leave restaurants as well as in restrooms and general open public areas of restaurant establishments.

Do patrons on a patio need to wear a face covering if they use the inside washroom of an establishment?
Yes, patrons entering indoor hallways and washrooms of a restaurant or bar must put on a face covering. They can take off the face covering when returning to the outdoor patio.
Is a worship leader required to wear a face covering in a place of worship during the service? 

No. The worship leader is not required to wear a face covering while leading the service. Areas where the public are not normally invited are exempt. The vestibule, pulpit, stage, etc. where the pastor, imam or rabbi stands or sits would not, normally, qualify as an indoor “public” place.

However, the worship leader would need to wear a face covering if in the public area for congregation.

Are worshippers required to wear a face covering in a place of worship during a service?
Face coverings must be worn in places of worship at all times except during a religious rite or ceremony incompatible with the wearing of a face covering AND where physical distancing can be maintained. For example, when participating in a sacrament (such as communion) where a worshipper is required eat and/or drink. This is difficult to do with the mouth and nose covered, so there is an exemption for this where physical distancing is also maintained. 
Do members of the choir have to wear a face covering in a place of worship during a service?

While the choir is not normally situated in a place where members of the general public are invited and therefore do meet the requirement to wear a face covering in a “private” area, they are required to physically distance (be 6ft/2m apart from each other) and follow all provincial public health orders currently in place.

Do employees need to wear a face covering in staff only areas?

No. The by-law does not apply to staff-only areas such as lunch rooms and storerooms. Employers may have their own policies related to employee-only areas.

Employees are required to wear a face covering in areas where customers interact with one another or with staff members or in any areas that are accessible to members of the public, such as:

  • retail floor/aisles
  • cashier queues
  • service counter queues
  • publicly accessible washrooms

Workplaces may have other safety measures in place like plexiglass barriers, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, and physical distancing.

Are employees of a public business/service working behind a barrier where the public is not invited required to wear a face covering?
No. As per Section 3(e) of the by-law, employees or agents of the owner or operator of any enclosed public place within or behind a physical barrier or within an area designated for employees only and to which the general public is not invited are exempt from the by-law.
Who is responsible for providing face coverings?

Residents must supply their own face covering. Some business owners/operators will supply masks but they are not required to do so.

As part of the City’s “Neighbours Helping Neighbours” program, the City of Brantford will be providing face coverings to vulnerable populations in the city. Please visit brantford.ca/NeighboursHelpingNeighbours for details.

How will the face covering by-law be enforced?
The by-law will be enforced by the City’s By-law department using an education-first approach - asking people to comply with the by-law and educating them on the importance of protecting each other. We are appealing to residents’ goodwill to take care of each other and willingly cooperate to protect the health and safety of our community.
Is physical distancing (being 6 ft/2 metres apart from others) still necessary if/when wearing a face covering?
Wearing a face covering AND physical distancing is ideal and should be practiced whenever possible. Wearing a face covering is an important additional measure, especially when physical distancing is not possible. Also continue to practice other health measures such as washing your hands frequently. All measures practiced in combination is the most effective way to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19. 
Does an individual have to show proof of exemption from the by-law?

No. Proof is not required to show an individual is exempt from wearing a face covering. The expectation is that individuals who self-identify as exempt should be allowed into an enclosed indoor public place.

The City is aware of fraudulent “Face Covering Exempt Cards” that are being circulated/sold online. There is no such legitimate card as showing proof of exemption is not required.

Is there a reporting process if someone is not wearing a face covering indoors?
It’s important to keep in mind that the City’s By-law department will not be able to respond to all calls and will be focusing efforts primarily on education and encouraging of compliance rather than enforcement. Business owners/operators can contact the City at 519-759-4150 if non-compliance is significant and ongoing and additional educational resources and support are needed. 
What is the fine for non-compliance?

The City’s primary approach to enforcement of the Mandatory Face Covering By-law is education, however, failure to comply could result in the following fines:

  • Non exempt person failing to wear a face covering - $150
  • Owner/Operator failure to ensure face covering is worn by patrons - $300
  • Owner/Operator failure to post signage - $300

Laying of charges will be reserved for more serious or blatant offences related to the by-law.

Both individuals and business owners/operators have a responsibility to ensure that the individual in an indoor, public place is wearing a face covering. The business owner may refuse entry if the individual is not wearing a face covering and does not fit within one of the exemptions in the by-law.

If a business owner/operator is regularly permitting entry to persons without face coverings the business owner could be charged for non compliance with the by-law. If an individual is simply refusing to comply with the by-law and is not exempt, the individual can be fined. If both are at fault for breaching the by-law, both could be fined.

Is a face shield an acceptable alternative for a face covering?
Use of a face shield as an alternative face covering is compliant with the City's Mandatory Face Covering By-law, however, at this time public health officials are recommending  cloth coverings as a more effective option to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 virus transmission. 
How long will the by-law be in effect?
The by-law will remain in effect until repealed by City Council. Currently Council is scheduled to review the by-law bi-monthly. 

What business owners/operators need to know

Owners and/or operators of enclosed public places are required to post clear, visible signage at all entrances, and the signs must contain all of the following text:

  • Protect each other
  • Wear a face covering
  • Cover your nose, mouth, and chin
  • Required by the Mandatory Face Covering By-law
  • Does not apply to children under the age of two and those who are unable to wear a face covering as a result of a medical condition or disability

The City is pleased to provide this sign to business owners/operators to download, print and use in their establishments. 

The City’s By-law also requires owner and operators of enclosed public places to prohibit a person from entering or remain in the enclosed public place without a face covering. 

Business Owners/Operators FAQs

What if someone enters my business without a face covering on?

Business owners/operators are not expected to engage in confrontations with members of the public who are not wearing a face covering. We suggest business owners/operators politely remind patrons of the By-law requirement.

Businesses also have the right to create additional standards over and above this by-law, pursuant to the Trespass to Property Act and their responsibilities under the Occupier’s Liability Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Who is required to wear a face covering under the Mandatory Face Covering By-law?

Any customer, patron, employee or visitor, who enters an enclosed public place is mandated to wear a face covering except for those who are exempt.

The by-law exempts:

  • a child who is under the age of 2 years old
  • a child between the ages of 3 and 5 who refuses to wear a face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver
  • a person who is unable to put on or remove a face covering without assistance
  • a person with a medical condition or other disability that inhibits their ability to wear a face covering, including persons who are reasonably accommodated pursuant to the (Ontario) Human Rights Code by not wearing a face covering
  • employees or agents of the owner or operator of any enclosed public place within or behind a physical barrier or within an area designated for them and to which the general public is not invited
  • any paramedic, fire fighter or police officer acting in the course of their duties
Does the by-law require business owners/operators to turn people away who are not wearing a face covering?

Both individuals and business owners/operators have a responsibility to ensure that the individual in an indoor, public place is wearing a face covering. The business owner may refuse entry if the individual is not wearing a face covering and does not fit within one of the exemptions in the by-law.

The City is employing an education first approach to by-law enforcement of the Mandatory Face Covering By-law; however, if a business owner/operator is regularly permitting entry to persons without face coverings the business owner could be charged for non compliance with the by-law. If an individual is simply refusing to comply with the by-law and is not exempt, the individual can be fined. If both are at fault for breaching the by-law, both could be fined.

Businesses also have the right to create additional standards over and above the City's by-law, pursuant to the Trespass to Property Act and their responsibilities under the Occupier’s Liability Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. 

What if business owners/operators do not ensure compliance with the by-law?

The City’s primary approach to enforcement of the Mandatory Face Covering By-law is education, however, failure to comply could result in the following fines:

  • Non exempt person failing to wear a face covering - $150
  • Owner/Operator failure to ensure face covering is worn by patrons - $300
  • Owner/Operator failure to post signage - $300

Laying of charges will be reserved for more serious or blatant offences related to the by-law.

Both individuals and business owners/operators have a responsibility to ensure that the individual in an indoor, public place is wearing a face covering. The business owner may refuse entry if the individual is not wearing a face covering and does not fit within one of the exemptions in the by-law.

If a business owner/operator is regularly permitting entry to persons without face coverings the business owner could be charged for non compliance with the by-law. If an individual is simply refusing to comply with the by-law and is not exempt, the individual can be fined. If both are at fault for breaching the by-law, both could be fined.

Are business owners/operators required to ask for proof of exemption?

No. The by-law does not require people to provide proof of an exemption.

The City is aware of fraudulent “Face Covering Exempt Cards” that are being circulated/sold online. There is no such legitimate card as showing proof of exemption is not required.

Are employees required to wear a face covering in staff only areas?

No. The by-law does not apply to staff-only areas such as lunch rooms and storerooms. Employers may have their own policies related to employee-only areas.

Employees are required to wear a face covering in areas where customers interact with one another or with staff members or in any areas that are accessible to members of the public, such as:

  • retail floor/aisles
  • cashier queues
  • service counter queues
  • publicly accessible washrooms

Workplaces may have other safety measures in place like plexiglass barriers, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, and physical distancing.

How can establishments notify customers, or visitors about the new by-law?

Business owners/operators are responsible for posting clearly visible by-law signage regarding the by-law at all entrances. Posters can be downloaded and printed from the City’s website as outlined below:

Should I report customers/visitors who are not wearing a face covering?
It’s important to keep in mind that the City’s By-law department will not be able to respond to all calls and will be focusing on education and encouraging of compliance rather than enforcement. Business owners/operators can contact the City at 519-759-4150 if non-compliance is significant and ongoing and additional educational resources and support are needed. 

Non-medical Face Coverings

The general public should wear non-medical (cloth) face coverings when going to public places, and when entering enclosed public settings. Non-medical face coverings can be made with household items or purchased materials. It is important to use and clean a mask properly (see below). Using a face covering incorrectly can accidentally spread infection to the wearer.

Do not use N95 and surgical masks as they are in limited supply, and are still urgently needed for healthcare workers. Also, please be respectful of people who are not wearing a face covering. Some health conditions make breathing through a face covering difficult. We are all in this together, so let's respect and take care of each other. 

Qualities of an effective Face Covering

An effective cloth face covering should:

  • Be at least two layers of tightly woven cotton or linen
  • Cover over nose, mouth and chin, and be easy to breathe through
  • Fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops without gaping or impairing vision
  • Be comfortable to avoid the need for adjustments when wearing
  • Maintain their shape after washing and drying
  • Not contain non-breathable materials such as plastic

For instructions on how to make a face covering using fabric, a t-shirt or a bandana, please review the instructions featured on the Government of Canada website.

Proper use of a Face Covering

  • Do not share your face covering with others
  • Wash your hands before putting on and after taking off a mask
  • Place the face covering over your nose, mouth and chin
  • Avoid touching your face and face covering while using it
  • Change your face covering as soon as it is moist or dirty
  • Do not leave your face covering tucked under the chin, hanging from your ear, or on your forehead
  • Remove the face covering by the ear loops without touching the front of the face covering
  • Put used face covering(s) in a plastic bag or directly in the laundry bin to be washed
  • Launder cloth face coverings after use with other items using the hot cycle and dryer
  • Dispose of disposable face coverings (one-time use) in a sealed garbage

How to wear a non-medical face covering properly - VIDEO
Download the poster of the do’s and don’ts of wearing a non-medical face covering

People who should not use Face Coverings

  • a child who is under the age of 2 years old
  • a child between the ages of 3 and 5 who refuses to wear a face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver
  • a person who is unable to put on or remove a face covering without assistance
  • a person with a medical condition or other disability that inhibits their ability to wear a face covering, including persons who are reasonably accommodated pursuant to the (Ontario) Human Rights Code by not wearing a face covering
  • employees or agents of the owner or operator of any enclosed public place within or behind a physical barrier or within an area designated for them and to which the general public is not invited
  • any paramedic, fire fighter or police officer acting in the course of their duties

Use of Face Shields as an Alternative to Face Coverings

Use of a face shield as an alternative face covering is compliant with the City's Mandatory Face Covering By-law, however, at this time public health officials are recommending  cloth coverings as a more effective option to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 virus transmission.