To help control the spread of COVID-19 as the economy, schools and communities reopen, Nova Scotia has announced that as of 12:01am July 31, 2020, non-medical face coverings will become mandatory in most indoor public places. These spaces include retail businesses and shopping centres.
The rule will be province-wide and retailers will only be required to give ‘best efforts’ in enforcement, meaning ensuring there is clearly visible signage at the entrance, retail staff encourage and remind customes to wear masks etc.
Face Shields and Plexiglass Barriers: These items cannot replace the use of non medical face masks. Dr. Strang, the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, stated that masks primarily protect others by minimizing the amount of virus coming out of the wearer’s mouth and nose. Face shields and plexiglass barriers primarily protect the wearer of the face shield / the person behind the plexiglass by minimizing the risk of virus getting into the wearer’s eyes from a direct cough or sneeze.
Dr. Strang stated that retailers can continue to use face shield and plexiglass barriers in addition to non medical face masks if the retailer wishes to provide an extra layer of protection. He noted that in health care settings, face shields are added to masks in high risk procedures but they never replace masks.
Exemptions to the rule for wearing non-medical masks:
- Children under two.
- Children up to four can be exempt if their caregivers cannot get them to co-operate with putting a mask on
- People with valid medical reasons – Retailers are not expected to ask for a doctor’s note.