By Chad Ingram
Minden Hills council has passed a non-medical mask or face coveringpolicy that applies to employees and members of the public withinmunicipal facilities amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and which willdeny entry to anyone not wearing a face mask.
Councillors firstdiscussed the draft policy during a July 23 meeting. The policy requires that members of the public wear face masks when entering municipalfacilities and that employees wear face masks while interacting withmembers of the public both inside municipalities and off-site whendoing municipal work. The first draft had included a list of exemptionstaken from a framework provided by the Haliburton Kawartha Pine RidgeDistrict Health Unit. They included medical conditions which peoplewould not be required to prove and religious reasons.
“Implementation of the policy will be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and will beprimarily used as a means to educate people on mask use in publicspaces” the draft policy had read. “No one will be denied service ifthey can’t wear a mask.”
Councillor Bob Carter took great exceptionto the religious exemption and also pointed out that research indicates there are actually very few valid medical reasons why someone cannotwear a face mask. Carter suggested that face masks should be requiredfor everyone and that anyone who may refuse to wear one should bedenied entry to municipal facilities and dealt with on a case-by-casebasis. Other members of council agreed with Carter’s comments and arevised version of the policy came back before council during its online July 30 meeting.
The exceptions section of the revised policy reads as follows: “The establishment will deny entry to anyone not wearing aface covering and staff will deal with individuals on an exceptionalbasis.”
The policy was unanimously passed by council and will remain in effect so long as the mandatory face mask requirement from thehealth unit is in place.