Kitchener-Waterloo

Masks not mandatory but encouraged in Waterloo region: Dr. Wang

Wearing a mask to go shopping, to get a haircut or eat on a patio won't be mandatory in Waterloo region but it is recommended, health officials say. The comments come after Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health issued an order making masks mandatory.

Make wearing a mask part of a 'new normal,' region's acting medical officer of health says

Masks won't be mandatory in Waterloo region for now, but the region's acting medical officer of health says she encourages anyone who can wear a mask to do so. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Waterloo region's health officials are not currently planning to make it mandatory to wear masks when shopping or going to a patio.

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's acting medical officer of health, is recommending people wear them as much as possible, though. 

"Many of our residents have been following public health advice, including wearing masks in situations where physical distancing is not possible. Some of us cannot wear masks. I encourage all of us who can, to do so," Wang said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health's medical officer of health Dr. Nicola Mercer issued an order to commercial businesses in the health unit's coverage area telling them anyone coming onto their premises must be wearing a mask, including staff and customers. As well, hand sanitizer must be placed at the entrance and/or exit of each business.

Wang said in Waterloo region, businesses that have been allowed to reopen must have "appropriate precautions" in place, including ways to allow for physical distancing and mask wearing when appropriate.

Public health has said businesses should follow guidelines from the province when reopening, but if necessary, local health officials will issue changes to those guidelines if needed.

"I continue to recommend that our residents wear a mask in all places where physical distancing cannot be guaranteed, including on public transit. Let's continue to make mask wearing in such settings a part of our 'new normal,'" Wang said.

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