Ottawa Bylaw enforcing COVID-19 rules in malls, stores this holiday season; 13 mask warnings issued since Black Friday

OTTAWA — As you check your Christmas naughty and nice list while visiting malls and stores this holiday season, Ottawa Bylaw officers will be checking to make sure you are wearing a face mask.

Since Black Friday, Ottawa Bylaw officers have issued 13 verbal warnings at retail establishments for violations of Ottawa’s Temporary Mandatory Mask Bylaw.

Director Roger Chapman tells CTV News Ottawa that Bylaw officers will continue conducting proactive patrols of retail establishments during the holiday season. Meantime, two major shopping centres have hired additional staff and security to ensure everyone’s safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under Ottawa’s Temporary Mandatory Mask Bylaw, masks are required in all retail establishments and shopping malls.

“Bylaw enforcement officers have provided education, and where necessary enforcement, through verbal warnings or charges at businesses across the city,” said Chapman in a statement.

“In addition, officers have also conducted hundreds of proactive patrols at retail establishments, including shopping malls and big box stores like Costco, Canadian Tire, IKEA and Walmart for example.”

Chapman says that during the proactive patrols of retail establishments, officers will look for violations of both the Provincial Orders and the Temporary Mandatory Mask Bylaw this holiday season.

“In the vast majority of cases, officers have observed retail establishments to be taking the appropriate steps to follow both regulations,” said Chapman.

Under the Provincial Orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, retail establishments must ensure there is adequate room for physical distancing, including limiting the number of customers in the store.

Both St. Laurent Centre and Rideau Centre say extra staff will be deployed to ensure people are following the rules and to help manage crowds.

The Rideau Centre says Cadillac Fairview also launched a new app called “LIVE at CF”, allowing guests to prepare for their visit and move efficiently through the shopping centre.

“Using the app, guests can access property specific maps and icon-based navigation cues to help plan the most efficient shopping routes,” said Cadillac Fairview in a statement to CTV News Ottawa.

“We have extended hours to help spread out traffic at the centre and have additional staff and security on-site to ensure everyone’s safety.”

In Quebec, Costco is recommending only cardholders enter a Costco warehouse to help limit crowds.

Ottawa Bylaw says while it will be enforcing the Provincial Orders and the Temporary Mandatory Mask Bylaw, everyone has a role to play to make it a safe holiday season.

“As we enter the busy holiday season, shoppers are reminded that they too play a role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. They are reminded to practice physical distancing from others and to ensure their masks are worn properly,” said Chapman. 

“If a resident is concerned that Provincial Orders or the Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law are not being followed, they are asked to file a report by calling 311.”  

With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Stephanie Ha

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