If you’re heading up to Muskoka, you’ll need to make sure a mask or face covering is on your list of things to pack.

Following Toronto’s lead, residents and visitors of Simcoe County and Muskoka will be required to mask-up when in indoor public spaces or on transit beginning on Monday, July 13.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit made the decision on Tuesday. Despite the relatively low level of cases in the region, this move doesn't come as a surprise. Once the subject of divided opinions from officials, masks are now understood to protect the public from COVID-19 at times when social distancing isn't possible.

“As we move through the stages of the reopening of the economy, there is an increased risk of resurgence of COVID-19 transmission in our communities,” Dr. Charles Gardner, the Simcoe Muskoka health unit’s medical officer of health, said yesterday in a statement.

“Locally, we are seeing more visitors from other parts of the province with a much higher incidence of COVID-19, resulting in crowding in public spaces, and this has us concerned.”

Face masks Photo by Arturo Rey on Unsplash

The health unit has prepared instructions for businesses and organizations, with the expectation that they use their “best efforts” to mandate face coverings with the use of signs and verbal reminders.

There are certain exemptions, including age, religious practices, and medical circumstances. Similar to Toronto, there is no requirement that a business turn away a customer who is not wearing a face covering. As such, individuals do not need to carry proof of their exemption, with the reliance on an honour system (and common sense) front and centre.

For those somehow still in the dark, a face covering means a medical or non-medical mask or other covering like a bandana, scarf, or cloth that covers the mouth, chin, and nose without gapping. A face covering can either be purchased or made with household items.  It should comprise at least two layers of tightly woven cotton, fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops, be easy to breathe through, and not lose its shape in the laundry.

Here's where you'll need one in Muskoka and Simcoe County:

  • Retail stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Malls and shopping plazas
  • Food premises
  • Personal service settings
  • Grocery stores and bakeries
  • Churches or faith settings
  • Farmers’ markets
  • Areas of mechanics’ shops and garages, and repair shops which are open to the public.
  • Libraries
  • Community centres
  • Private transportation (e.g. bus, taxi, or limo)
  • Public transportation (e.g. bus or train)
  • Business offices open to the public
  • Professional offices where clients receive purchased services (e.g. lawyer’s or accountant’s offices) that are not open to members of the public.

Here's to hoping nobody leaves their common sense in the city...