Ottawa Public Health asks businesses to encourage mask use by staff in break rooms, kitchens

Ottawa Public Health is urging all businesses to promote wearing face masks by employees in areas not covered by Ottawa’s mandatory face mask bylaw, including break rooms and changing areas.

And businesses are being encouraged to do “active screening” of all employees during the pandemic to help limit the spread of novel coronavirus.

Associate Medical Officer of Health Brent Moloughney says the health unit is still seeing cases of COVID-19 where employees are going to work while symptomatic.

“For this reason, OPH strongly encourages all businesses to do active screening of employees to make sure no one is going to work when they are sick or feeling unwell,” said Dr. Moloughney in a statement released on Friday afternoon.

Ottawa Public Health has a health-screening questionnaire available on its website.

“Reminder, Ottawa Public Health does not recommend asymptomatic employees be tested before starting work since the results reflect just a snapshot in time and can be falsely reassuring,” said Dr. Moloughney.

Council passed a bylaw in July making face masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces. Ottawa’s mandatory face mask bylaw includes an exemption that allows employees working in non-public areas or behind a physical barrier to go maskless while working in public buildings.

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Dr. Moloughney says public health encourages businesses to “promote mask use in areas not covered by the bylaw including non-public common areas such as break rooms, kitchens, changing areas, etc. to help further prevent COVID-19 transmission among staff.”

Since the first case of COVID-19 on March 11, there have been 2,623 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 264 deaths.

A total of 2,204 people have recovered after testing positive for novel coronavirus.