Masks Are Now Mandatory in Enclosed Common Areas of Ottawa Condominiums

We have previously mentioned that Ottawa passed a Temporary Mask By-law, requiring masks to be worn at certain places. We also indicated that the City may expand this by-law to make masks mandatory in enclosed common areas of condominiums. Well, this possibility is now a reality.

Ottawa City Council has expanded its mandatory mask by-law to include the enclosed common areas of condominiums and multi-unit residential buildings (such as the lobby, laundry room, elevator, gym etc.). So, what does this mean for condominiums?

The expanded by-law requires the “building operator of a condominium…” to place signs at a prominent location at every entrance, requiring persons entering or remaining at the enclosed common area to wear a mask. The specific (bilingual) wording to be included on the signs can be found at section 4A of the by-law. Condominiums must also ensure that an “alcohol-based hand rub” is available at all entrances to the premises.

It is worth reiterating that the by-law does not apply to certain categories of people, including:

  • Children under 2 years of age, or children under 5 years of age who refuse to wear a mask and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver;
  • Persons with an underlying medical condition or a disability that prevents them from safely wearing a mask
  • Persons who need to temporarily remove their mask in order to:
  1. receive services that require removal of the mask
  2. engage in athletic or fitness activities, including water-based sports. This category notably encompasses lifeguards working at indoor pools
  3. consume food or drink; or
  4. for an emergency or medical purpose
  • Employees or agents of the “Operator” of the enclosed public space (e.g. the condominium corporation) when they are located behind a physical barrier (such as Plexiglass), when they are in an area of the premises that is not designated for public access, or when they are in “designated unenclosed public spaces” (which refers to outdoor spaces to which the public is permitted access, such as sidewalks).

For condominiums that already have masks policies in place, the expansion of the by-law likely doesn’t change things too much (with perhaps the exception for the signage and hand sanitizer requirements). For condominiums that don’t yet have a mask policy in place, prompt action needs to be undertaken to ensure compliance as the expanded by-law is now in force, immediately.

This expanded by-law also means that condominiums have another tool (calling by-law enforcement) when dealing with individuals who refuse to comply with the mask requirement.