Non-medical face masks mandatory beginning Aug. 24

Aug 21st, 2020

Memorial University

Non-medical face masks mandatory beginning Aug. 24

Since early July, Memorial has strongly encouraged wearing non-medical masks while on campus. Beginning Monday, Aug. 24, 2020 masks must be worn in public indoor spaces in Newfoundland and Labrador as issued in a special measures order by Newfoundland and Labrador’s Chief Medical Officer.

Therefore, non-medical masks will be mandatory beginning on Monday for Memorial faculty, staff, students and visitors. These must be worn in public spaces and common areas or anytime two-meter physical distance cannot be maintained while at university facilities or while conducting Memorial business off-campus. Information about masks will be integrated into Memorial’s COVID-19 awareness training and the related health and safety moment. For directions on proper use of masks, please view this video.

Areas where masks must be worn include, but are not limited to hallways, publicly accessible lobbies, elevators, reception areas, stairways, washrooms, laboratories, the shuttle bus, in Memorial owned vehicles transporting more than one person, any work areas where 2 m distance cannot be maintained, when entering and exiting classrooms, and in lunchrooms when not seated. If an employee is not able to wear a mask and requires an accommodation, speak to a supervisor. As well, if individuals are experiencing challenges acquiring masks, or there are exceptional circumstances they must notify their supervisor to determine options and a course of action. Previous unit level health and safety plans do not need to be resubmitted for approval. Please apply the new special measures order to your current plan.

As part of our shared responsibility, individuals are asked to use personal reusable, non-medical cloth masks, which not only assists in Memorial’s collective effort in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but is a more sustainable choice to disposable alternatives. In the short-term, if arriving on campus without a mask, a limited supply of disposable masks are available at Campus Enforcement and Patrol. MUN Safe can be used to report non-compliance. Employees are reminded to continue to work remotely whenever possible and approval for on campus work is still required.

Exemptions for the use of masks under the special measures include:

Seated areas - Individuals seated in their chairs at their desks, provided physical distancing of two metres can be achieved between individuals or bubbles and provided they wear a mask when moving around in these places: 

    • Classrooms (when the 2-meter distance can be maintained) 
    • When protective barriers are in place and a consistent 2 m distance can be maintained 
    • Offices and cubicles (when the 2-meter distance can be maintained)
    • The chapel (when the 2-meter distance can be maintained) 
    • Individuals wearing religious face coverings 
    • Eating or drinking when 2-meter distance can be maintained  

Workplaces - Employees must wear their mask when they are in a publicly accessible lobby, reception area, hallway, stairway or elevator; however, requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations, as well as any workplace specific health and safety plans, will continue to apply to workers (for example, if a job requires a respirator, the respirator must be worn instead of the non-medical mask).

Physical condition or mental health - People whose particular physical condition or mental health prevents them from wearing a mask (these people are encouraged to wear a face shield instead, if possible), including but not limited to:

    • People who are unable to put it on or take it off by themselves due to a physical disability 
    • People with facial deformities
    • Peoples who, due to cognitive impairment, an intellectual disability, an autism spectrum disorder, or a severe mental health condition, are unable to understand the requirement, or for whom wearing a mask causes significant distress 
    • People who have a severe skin condition on the face or ears that is significantly aggravated by wearing a mask; o people with a severe respiratory condition or disease for whom a mask would further impair their breathing (please note that there is no evidence that indicates NMMs impair oxygenation of those with respiratory disease)
    • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance

Under provincial regulations, a person found in breach of these orders could face a fine of $500 to $2,500, or jail time up to 6 months, or both a fine and jail time. A corporation found in breach of these orders could face a fine of $5,000 to $50,000.