Many regions and provinces implementing mandatory mask orders that require masks be worn inside enclosed public spaces, including convenience stores and gas station kiosks.
This means retailers are left in the defect position of policing masks inside their establishment. The Convenience Industry Council of Canada shares these tips for c-store operators navigating this evolving issue:
- Develop a policy: Retailers must create a policy requiring masks to be worn by employees and members of the public. The policy shall permit the temporary removal of a mask where necessary for the purpose of selling age- restricted products.
- Train staff: Retailers must train their staff on the requirements of their policy, including its effect on the sale of age- restricted products and who is exempt from the requirements of the bylaw.
- Communicate with staff and customers: Retailers must communicate their policy to staff and customers. This should include posting signage at all entrances reminding customers that wearing a mask is required by law and verbally communicating with customers that masks are required.
- Make best efforts: Retailers must make best efforts to ensure that all staff, customers and visitors are compliant with the policy and reasonably determine if a non-compliant customer is covered by an exemption to the local by- law. Common exemptions to by-laws include:
- a) Very young children (most commonly interpreted to be children under the age of 5);
- b) Individuals with a medical condition that makes it difficult to wear a mask;
- c) People who require accommodation under the Ontario Human Rights Code; and
- d) Employees within a designated staff area, or within or behind a physical barrier
Retailers are permitted to ask if a customer is exempt from the by-law but are not permitted to require proof that an exemption applies. If a customer refuses to wear a mask but does not claim an exemption, retailers should de- escalate the situation and complete the transaction, if necessary, in the interest of staff safety.
- Continue to comply with requirements regarding the sale of age-restricted products: Retailers who sell age- restricted products are still legally required to perform age verification. This will require the customer to provide proper identification and safely remove their mask at the cash. If a customer refuses to temporarily remove their mask, then retailers should refuse to complete the sale.
The CICC has published an updated list of mandatory mask requirements by region. Check here for updates. Or, consult your local public health authority for further information.