Brantford and Brant pass mandatory face-covering bylaws

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The City of Brantford and County of Brant both have passed bylaws requiring that people wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces to help control the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, a respiratory illness which has caused a pandemic affecting millions of people around the world.  

Brantford’s bylaw will come into effect on Friday, July 17, while Brant’s bylaw will follow on Monday, July 20. 

Under the Brantford bylaw, wearing a face covering will be required in enclosed public indoor spaces, including all City of Brantford facilities and public transit. City council directed that the duration of the bylaw be reviewed on a bi-monthly basis.

Based on public health best practices endorsed by the Brant County Health Unit (BCHU.org), a combination of frequent hand-washing, physical distancing, staying home when feeling unwell, and wearing a non-medical cloth face covering are all measures, when implemented together, proven to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

Across Canada and many other countries, public officials responded to the spread of the virus with emergency orders to close all but essential businesses and services. Ontario has slowly reopened its economy over the last month, but only with the necessary precautions in place. 

“As the city begins moving into Stage 3 of reopening this Friday, more people will be gathering, returning to work, moving around the city, and using public transit,” said Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis. “Naturally, more people in public at any given time will make physical distancing more challenging, and in some cases impossible. For as long as the threat of contracting COVID-19 is with us, we need to use absolutely every tool in our arsenal to combat community spread. Face coverings are another important tool to reduce the risk so I am very encouraged to see council support this bylaw. Simply put, the use of face coverings can help save lives.”

In the BCHU’s catchment area, four people have died who had COVID-19. One person with the virus is in hospital, while 12 who still have it are not. The remainder of the 136 who have been diagnosed with the virus have recovered from the illness.

“The Brant County Health Unit has done an excellent job helping us navigate the COVID-19 pandemic,” said County of Brant Mayor David Bailey. “We have been able to maintain a relatively low number of infections by taking a proactive and cautious approach. Our hospital and essential services were not overwhelmed.  As the province and county move forward and open more amenities, we need to continue to take a proactive and cautious approach. We are listening to the health authorities and they are indicating that use of face coverings, particularly in enclosed public spaces, can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is a relatively simple practice to adopt that can make a significant positive impact in the community.”

Brant’s face covering bylaw will support business owners who operate in enclosed public spaces to require face coverings from their staff and patrons and gives them authority to not permit people into enclosed public places without a face covering. It will also require people to use face coverings when using Brant eRide, the county’s public transit system.   

Enclosed public spaces includes stores, restaurants, services such as counselling, funeral homes and transportation/repair, lobby areas of commercial buildings, hotels and motels (excluding the rented rooms), laundromats, fitness centres, real estate open houses, museums, places of worship, municipal buildings, schools, hospitals and more.

A “face covering” can include a medical mask or non-medical mask or other face covering, including a bandana, scarf or other fabric that covers the nose, mouth and chin to create a barrier to limit the transmission of respiratory droplets.

“I want to thank County of Brant residents and business owners in advance,” Bailey said. “I know this hasn’t been easy for anyone.  We’ve all had our unique struggles through these uncertain times.  But I can confidently say that the residents in the County of Brant are tremendous people who are consistently showing great care and concern for their neighbours.  Please continue to act in the best interest of your community. Help us protect those who are most vulnerable. Together, we will get through this.” 

There are exceptions noted within the face covering bylaw.  For example, small children and those with a medical condition are exempt.  For full details about the face covering bylaw, visit www.brant.ca/FaceCovering.

COVID-19 spreads from close contact (less than 2 metres, or six feet) 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 may unknowingly pass the infection to others because they do not have symptoms (asymptomatic) or have not yet to develop symptoms (pre-symptomatic). The highest risk for infection is with prolonged unprotected close contact.

For more information and updates, visit brantford.ca/coronavirus.

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