We’re breaking down what you need to know about the pandemic. Send us your questions via email at COVID@cbc.ca and we’ll answer as many as we can. We’ll publish a selection of answers every weekday on our website, and we’re also putting some of your questions to the experts on the air during The National and on CBC News Network. So far we’ve received more than 43,000 emails from all corners of the country.
Can a store force me to wear a mask in order to shop there?
Some stores across the country have made it mandatory for shoppers to wear a mask, which has some of our readers, like Vel B., wondering if those policies can actually be enforced.
The short answer is yes, retailers can enforce the rule. But it can get more complicated in certain situations.
In the same way a store can tell you “No shoes, no shirt, no service,” they can insist “No mask, no service,” according to Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and a former Ontario attorney general.
The argument can be made on the basis of health and safety regulations in their store.
“There’s no law backing the store up, but there’s no stopping the store either,” Bryant said.
Richard Powers, business professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, said that because they are private businesses, they can set the terms for their clients any way they choose.
What if you can’t wear a mask — or don’t want to?
“If someone adamantly refuses to put on a mask, the store owner can refuse to let them into the store,” Powers said.
But there are caveats. And because there’s currently no law or emergency order requiring people to wear masks, it gets a bit tricky.
Some reasons customers might refuse to wear a mask: “[If] someone had a face covering for religious reasons and didn’t want to also put a mask on, or if the person is suspecting they’re being targeted because they are a racialized minority, or if the person seems to be being targeted because they appear to be impoverished or mentally ill,” Bryant said.
WATCH | Are you making these face mask mistakes?
Stores must follow Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms when it comes to serving people, Bryant said. If they don’t, they risk a possible human rights complaint from a customer for denial of service.
Bryant also warned that being denied entry in a place with no other option — like a rural area with just one grocery store — could be violating your rights.
“Refusing service to somebody in an area where there isn’t an alternative is possibly unlawful,” he said.
Mask policies could also inadvertently discriminate against people who cannot afford masks, Bryant said.
At Longo’s grocery stores, CEO Anthony Longo said, accommodations will be made for customers who can’t wear a mask for health or other reasons.
So far, Bryant said, the CCLA hasn’t received complaints from people about being denied entry to a store based on mask-wearing.
What can I do as a business owner if people don’t want to follow physical distancing rules?
Many readers are telling us they notice that not everyone is keeping their distance while shopping.
Small business owner Hugh L. wrote in asking how he can manage customers who don’t want to follow the rules.
But just as shoppers have rights, so do business owners.
Powers said it’s up to individual business owners to set the rules for their stores, as long as they abide by the laws of the jurisdiction.
“If a person fails to adhere to those rules, the business is within their rights to refuse to serve them,” he said. “You don’t kick them out, you act reasonably in the situation — but if someone is acting unreasonably, they should refuse to serve them.”
Health Canada’s advice for business owners includes posting clear signage that communicates the store’s health policies, and where to place them. The federal agency also suggests assigning a dedicated employee each shift to relay this messaging to customers at the entrance.
Thursday we answered questions about disinfecting masks and whether or not you need to hold your breath when passing by other people.
Keep your questions coming by emailing us at COVID@cbc.ca.
P.E.I. reports 2 new coronavirus cases on Sunday – Globalnews.ca
Prince Edward Island is reporting two additional cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the total number of active cases on the island to five.
The province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, has stressed that the five new cases are not seasonal residents of P.E.I. and all predate the newly established Atlantic bubble.
All are related to travel outside of the province, Morrison said at a briefing on Sunday.
On Saturday the province reported that one of the confirmed cases was an essential worker who travelled outside of Atlantic Canada.
The other two cases are a 20-year-old who travelled to Nova Scotia and then had contact with someone who had recently travelled to the United States, and a woman in her 20s who is a close contact of the 20-year-old.
The woman in her 20s is a worker at Whisperwood Villa in Charlottetown.
Morrison said 129 residents and 140 workers Whisperwood Villa were tested on Saturday. All results came back negative, she confirmed, although they will be re-tested later this week.
Confederation Bridge sees long lines after opening Atlantic travel
Anyone who was a visitor to the long-term care facility on June 30 is being contacted in order to arrange for testing.
The two additional cases announced on Sunday are both men in their 20s.
They were close contacts of the 20-year-old man that tested positive on Saturday.
“At this point, there is no evidence of community spread of COVID-19 in our province,” said Morrison.
“The risk of community transmission of COVID-19 in our province remains low.”
She credited the team of contact tracers for the province’s swift response to the new cluster of cases.
Morrison added that 406 tests were completed on Saturday, a record number of tests for P.E.I. in a single day.
Sunday marked the third full day of the Atlantic travel bubble, which permits interprovincial travel between Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador without self-isolation.
However, restrictions remain in place. You can learn what you need to do ahead of time for each province here.
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said the new cases were not likely to bring an end to the newly established bubble.
Atlantic Canadian provinces lift restrictions, begin travel bubble
At the press update on Sunday, King said he had not talked to any of his fellow Atlantic premiers since the announcement of new cases on Saturday.
“As of right now, we will continue working on the situation here we have at hand,” said King.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Nine new confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Windsor-Essex – AM800 (iHeartRadio)
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported Sunday there are nine new cases of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex.
Of the nine new cases, two are from the agri-culture sector, four are community based and three are still being investigated.
There are now three long-term care or retirement homes experiencing an outbreak — Riverside Place, Devonshire Retirement Residence, and Extendicare Tecumseh. An outbreak at a retirement or long-term care facility is defined as one or more resident or staff confirmed cases.
Five workplaces are also in outbreak status, four in the agriculture sector and one in manufacturing. Three of the workplaces are in Leamington and two in Kingsville.
As of Sunday, there have been 1,665 confirmed cases in Windsor-Essex, including 995 people who have recovered.
Hundreds of scientists say coronavirus is airborne, ask WHO to revise recommendations – National Post
Hundreds of scientists say there is evidence that novel coronavirus in smaller particles in the air can infect people and are calling for the World Health Organization to revise recommendations, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
The WHO has said the coronavirus disease spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks.
In an open letter to the agency, which the researchers plan to publish in a scientific journal next week, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined the evidence showing smaller particles can infect people, the NYT said.
The WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
Whether carried by large droplets that zoom through the air after a sneeze, or by much smaller exhaled droplets that may glide the length of a room, the coronavirus is borne through air and can infect people when inhaled, the scientists said, according to the NYT.
However, the health agency said the evidence for the virus being airborne was not convincing, according to the NYT.
“Especially in the last couple of months, we have been stating several times that we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence,” Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead of infection prevention and control, was quoted as saying by the NYT.
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