OTTAWA -- The city of Ottawa is making masks mandatory on and around skating rinks, but the masks won’t be required while people are skating.

Effective 5 p.m. Wednesday, people must wear a mask within a 15 meter distance of the edge of the ice surface, but masks are not mandatory while you are skating.

In a memo to Council, Emergency and Protective Services General Manager Anthony Di Monte outlined new rules for mandatory masks around outdoor rinks under the Temporary Mandatory Mask Bylaw.

"Every person who enters or remains on outdoor ice skating rinks operated by the city of Ottawa or on the city's behalf, including publicly accessible areas that are within a 15 metre distance of the edge of the ice surface, shall wear a mask in a manner that covers their mouth, nose, and chin."

Masks will be mandatory for every person entering or remaining on outdoor ice skating rinks operated by the City of Ottawa beginning at 5 p.m. Dec. 30 until Jan. 28, 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

Under the mask bylaw, there are exemptions:

  • Young children
  • Persons with medical or cognitive conditions
  • Persons engaged in athletic/fitness activity
  • Outdoor rink operators when performing rink maintenance when the public is not on the surface of the ice rink.

In a tweet, the city said, "to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, masks are now required around all outdoor refrigerated and community skating rinks. Skaters not from the same household must keep two metres apart on and off the ice."

"Masks are not mandatory while skating but are highly recommended."

Di Monte told Council that Ottawa Public Health and Ottawa Bylaw have observed and received significant information about large gatherings at outdoor skating rinks since early December.

"The size and dimensions of outdoor skating rinks is relatively limited such that maintaining two-metre physical distancing is often not sufficiently practicable," said Di Monte.

"The Enforcement Task Force implemented a voluntary-compliance approach, including signage, that has not been effective in limiting contact between rink users."

Di Monte adds the mandatory mask rules around the outdoor rinks come as the city anticipates a "high-demand" for recreational activities during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The mandatory masks on outdoor ice skating rinks includes the Sens Rink of Dreams at Ottawa City Hall, the outdoor rink at Lansdowne Park, Ben Franklin Place and the Jim Tubman Chevrolet Rink, along with the outdoor community rinks.