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On May 20, we published an article detailing the rights and obligations of an employer, from the perspective of the current pandemic. Since the publication of that article, things have changed. From July 18, 2020, wearing a face cover in public places is now mandatory. But, this raises several questions.

So what are these closed public places? Are there any exceptions? What are the possible penalties in the event of non-compliance? We have scrutinized the government decree in detail and here are the highlights.

What face covers are recognized?

This question, which may seem trivial at first glance, is important since the decree defines what a face cover is and that is larger than a mask. It goes without saying that the masks such as “surgical or procedural,” as well as the famous N-95 masks correspond to the description of a face covering.

But so-called “homemade” masks are also recognized as long as they are made of “a well-fitting fabric that covers the nose and mouth”. For example, wearing a bandana that only covered the mouth would not be recognized and the person wearing it could be denied access to closed public places.

Where is the wearing of a mask compulsory?

In closed or partially closed public places, such as:

  • Shops, shopping centers and at esthetic, hair, nail & beauty salons;
  • Bars and restaurants;
  • Places of worship;
  • Places where cultural, entertainment, sports or recreational activities are offered;
  • Rental or meeting rooms;
  • Places where municipal or government services are offered;
  • A common area, including elevators, of a tourist accommodation establishment;
  • In schools (except preschool, primary and secondary establishments);
  • A train or ferry station, a metro station or an airport;
  • A private professional firm (lawyer, accountant, etc.)

Are there exceptions?

Wearing a face cover is not mandatory in the following cases:

  • If a student of a preschool, primary and secondary schools;
  • If the person is under 12 years old;
  • If the person has a medical condition which prevents it;
  • If they perform a treatment or an activity during the performance of which the person must remove their mask;
  • For identification purposes;
  • If the person works or practices in the location (subject to the applicable rules on health and safety at work);
  • If the person is in a courtroom or in a jury deliberation room;
  • If the person consumes food or a drink in the places provided for this purpose;
  • If the person is seated AND they keep a distance of two meters from other people OR that a physical barrier (such as a plexiglass) separates them from other people.

What are the consequences for a breach?

It is the responsibility of the businesses or the operator of the establishment concerned to ensure that the wearing of a face cover is respected, when required.

If the merchant or the operator of the location concerned comes up against a recalcitrant customer who refuses to wear the face covering, the merchant then has an obligation to deny the customer access to their business. In extreme cases, police intervention may be required.

Anyone who contravenes the rules set out in the decree governing the wearing of a compulsory mask is liable to a fine ranging from $ 400 to $ 6,000.

This article does not deal exhaustively with the decree making the compulsory wearing of a mask, but rather aims to draw up a general portrait of the situation. If you have a specific situation, or you are unsure of the impact the decree may have on the conduct of your business activities, the Force-Légal team will be able to answer your questions and advise you properly!


An article by Me Maxime Morissette

Photo credit: photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash