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Mandatory masks in workplaces: November 19 PHO order

On November 19, 2020, the provincial health officer (PHO) announced that the solicitor general is issuing a public safety order under the Emergency Program Act requiring everyone in all indoor public and retail settings and shared areas of workplaces to wear a mask. Details of the mask requirements are provided in the PHO’s order.

This requirement applies to all indoor public settings and all retail stores, and all other workplaces in shared work areas and any area where physical distancing cannot be maintained and where workers are not separated by a barrier. Refer to the information provided in the PHO’s order for more details around where this order applies.

Those who cannot put on or remove a mask on their own are exempt from this requirement.

What employers need to do

Employers must implement a policy requiring all employees and customers to wear masks at the workplace in any location where they are in a shared space with other workers or members of the public.

This policy must be communicated clearly at the workplace through appropriate means. The employer must ensure that measures are in place to ensure that all workplace polices, including the mandatory mask requirement, are functioning correctly at the workplace.

Employers should ensure that workers are provided with information on how to discuss mandatory mask usage with customers, including what to do if they refuse or become abusive. Employers should review their violence prevention policy to ensure that it addresses safety issues that may arise.

What workers need to do

Workers must abide by the workplace policies around mask usage. If a worker has a medical condition or other reason that prohibits them from wearing a mask, they should discuss this with their supervisor or employer.

Resources for employers and workers

Frequently asked questions

Who is responsible for ensuring workers and customers wear masks?

As identified in the order, employers are expected to enforce the mandatory mask policy with both workers and customers.

What if a customer refuses to wear a mask?

As identified in the order, employers may refuse entry or service to customers who are able to wear masks and refuse to do so.

If everyone is wearing a mask, does that mean we no longer need other protocols, such as physical distancing and barriers?

No. Mask wearing is just one part of an effective COVID-19 Safety Plan. All of your workplace protocols including health checks, physical distancing, barriers, masks, and cleaning protocols need to remain in place, and you must ensure that they are being followed appropriately.