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Residents rush to buy face masks on day one of mandatory mask rule in Kingston
Saturday was the first day face masks were mandatory in all indoor spaces in Kingston, Ont. (Kimberley Johnson/CTV News Ottawa)
OTTAWA -- From bus trips, shopping malls and even visiting a library, if you are visiting any commercial or municipal buildings in Kingston, you now need to be wearing a face covering.
The Health Unit for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington announced Friday, that a public health order had been issued requiring a face mask to be worn inside any indoor public setting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For those selling face coverings, it is proving to be a bit of a sudden boom in business. Medori Gifts in downtown Kingston has been selling face masks for a number of years.
While in the past they would have a few purchases, now a steady stream of residents can be seen waiting peacefully outside, physically distancing, to purchase theirs.
“We’ve been getting a lot of masks sales today, both in store and online,” says manager Lizzy Emberley. “We’ve been putting together orders and also helping customers for the solid few hours we’ve been open now.”
Emberley says residents have been calm and understanding about the new rule.
“A lot of people say this has been a long time coming,” she explains.
The mandatory face mask order follows an outbreak at a nail salon in the city, causing hundreds of people to quarantine, just two weeks after Kingston and eastern Ontario entered Stage 2 of Ontario's COVID-19 economic reopening.
Some locations that people will now be required to wear face coverings include grocery stores, retail stores, hair and nail salons, as well as community centres, churches and houses of worship. Residents will also have to wear them on public transport, and entering libraries.
Late Friday, Dr. Kieran Moore, the city’s Chief Medical Officer of Health for KFL&A says this is about preparing as Kingston continues to move forward through the pandemic.
“We want to be proactive, and we want to support our businesses,” he explained in a news conference.
Those who are two years or older will have to wear the masks, with exceptions for medical reasons.
Businesses could face a $5,000 fine by health inspectors if found breaking the rules. Dr. Moore says officials are not ruling out fining individual residents in the future as well.
However, he did say that residents would have the coming days to settle into the new normal, before fines will be handed out.
“It was never our intent to use this as a hammer, but for our community to embrace and learn what we have gone through,” says Dr. Moore. “To use this now as a standard in our community is prudent, smart, and will protect us in the long run.”
The United Way will also be supporting residents who need a face mask. The organization says starting next week they’ll be working with the city, as well as other organizations, and public health to distribute them to those in need.