DAN CEARNS,
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) is making the wearing of masks or face-coverings mandatory in Kawartha Lakes businesses.
“Under instructions issued by the local Medical Officer of Health, area businesses will have to have a policy in place that requires people to wear a non-medical mask or face covering before entering their commercial establishment,” read a press release from the local health unit, released on Tuesday, July 7th. “Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, Medical Officer of Health (MOH) for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit today issued instructions to the owners and operators of commercial establishments currently open during Stage 2 of the province’s reopening. The instructions have been issued under the authority of Ontario Regulation 263/20 under the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA).”
The measure came into effect as of Monday, July 13th, and HKPR stated the order will remain in place “while the provincial Emergency Order remains in force or until such time that the [Ministry of Health] lifts the requirement.”
“Although we have seen a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in our area, we want to be sure we continue to see a decrease as we move towards the reopening of more businesses within the province,” read a statement from Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, HKPR’s Medical Officer of Health. “We need to do everything we can to avoid the chance of a resurgence in activity that we have seen in some other places.”
HKPR explained what businesses this order applies to. “An establishment would include a mall or other structure containing commercial premises, including: retail stores, convenience stores, restaurants, personal services settings, grocery stores and bakeries, gas stations, indoor farmers’ markets, [and] areas of mechanics’ shops/garages/repair shops, which are open to the public,” read the press release.
HKPR states they want the enforcement of this order by businesses to be done in “good faith” and stressed the importance of taking an educational approach. “Additional education and enforcement will be conducted by Health Unit staff, as well as local municipal bylaw and police officers,” the release explained.
City of Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham said the City will support this order however they can. “We, as a municipality, will certainly offer our full support to assist in that emergency order. Everything from helping communicate it out, to enforcement. Whatever we can do to keep our residents and our visitors safe,” he said, during a telephone press conference, on Wednesday, July 8th.
Mayor Letham did stress, though, this is a precautionary step only, “This is not a knee jerk reaction to something that’s happened, this is not a result of a second phase or numbers starting to go up.”
From what he’s heard, Mayor Letham said local health units are trying to keep a consistent approach in order to avoid confusion.
“That will certainly make the communication and marketing part of it easier.”
Regarding enforcement, the Mayor said the City will keep an eye on how many people comply with the order this week, and go from there.
The focus is on education, “The businesses are going to be [telling] people [who] come in, if they don’t have a mask, that it’s a policy they have to have a mask [on]. But they’re not going to put the business in the position where they have to remove a person who’s not wearing a mask. The onus is going to be on education for now,” Mayor Letham shared.