MUSKOKA, ON-The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has addressed the enforcement of the face mask requirement that is set to take effect next week. 

Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of Health with the SMDHU, noted in a media conference that there would not be any strict enforcement of this policy as they have decided to take a “softer approach,” and focus more on education.  

Until a certain point, when the health unit advises by-law officers or other enforcement officials, no fines will be given out if people are spotted without face masks.   

During this time as well, the SMDHU states that businesses are not required to deny access to members of the public. A verbal reminder that the customer should be wearing a face-covering as a result of these instructions shall be given to any customer entering businesses or organizations without one and these companies will not need to turn away any customers to achieve the best effort standard.   

Should fines under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act be activated in the region, residents could look at paying a fine between $750 and $1,000.

When asked why the health unit would take a softer approach instead of initiating fines, Gardner said it is typical of the health unit to take the softer, more educational approach. He noted that this approach has worked with his colleagues in other districts where they have not had to fine anyone.       

Gardner noted that if it is required, they will take a harder approach to ensure that everyone is wearing a mask, but they are in no rush to this measure.