Until a reliable vaccine is developed and tested, COVID-19 will continue to be a real and significant threat to communities everywhere. This is especially true in vulnerable communities like Neyaashiinigmiing where a large number of people have pre-existing medical conditions that could make contracting the disease far more serious. With so few treatment options, our best strategy is to simply avoid catching COVID-19 altogether. A well-made cloth face covering, combined with physical distancing, has been shown to be effective in significantly reducing the spread of COVID-19. Wearing a face mask is proven to protect the people around us.
To guard the safety of Neyaashiinigmiing residents as we begin to re-open, the Council has created a policy, effective immediately, making face coverings mandatory in the community. A face covering must be worn when a person is within 2 meters of someone they don’t live with. This requirement is in effect indoors or outdoors. Some people may be exempt from the policy:
- a child under 2 years of age
- a person with a medical condition that prevents them from safely wearing a mask
- a person who cannot remove a mask without assistance
- a person exempt under the Ontario Human Rights Code or Canadian Human Rights Act
A face covering may be temporarily removed, if necessary, for:
- receiving services
- engaging in an athletic or fitness activity
- eating and drinking
- any emergency or medical reason
All band employees are also subject to the face covering mandate and are required to wear masks in any area where safe physical distance cannot be maintained. Administration Buildings and businesses in the community must have conspicuous signage posted at entrances indicating the face covering requirement.
No proof is required if a person is claiming an exemption. Owners or supervisors of a building or business establishment may refuse entry or service to a person not wearing a mask, but are not required to do so.
The Council appreciates that this new health and safety requirement may seem inconvenient to some residents and guests, but it’s a small inconvenience compared to the risk of serious illness or death posed by COVID-19. While the Council is well within its legal authority to temporarily mandate face coverings during the current pandemic conditions, we hope, as the entire world does, that a vaccine and effective treatment will be developed as soon as possible.
Please help us keep the community safe. Be an example for everyone around you and wear a face mask when you’re out and around other people. Stay safe and stay healthy!
Read the full policy here.