COVID-19 Policy Update: Mask Exemptions
For the past six months, all Ontarians have had to endure hardships and restrictions that none of us could ever have foreseen. Against that backdrop, Nature’s Emporium made the difficult decision to adopt a no exemption mask policy, while implementing a number of accommodations for customers who are not able to wear a mask, including:
- Delivery service for seniors
- Providing personal shopping
- Curbside pick-up
- Any other reasonable alternative accommodation that we mutually agree upon with the customer
This decision was not made lightly. After consulting with experts, and only with the intention of protecting our team and customers from COVID-19, we decided it was the best way to protect our team and the communities we serve.
When the province of Ontario enters Step / Stage 2 of its reopening plan on June 30, Nature’s Emporium will replace its current no exemption mask policy with an updated mask policy that allows customers to enter its stores without a mask if the person:
- Has a medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering,
- is unable to put on or remove their mask or face covering without the assistance of another person,
- is a child who is younger than two years of age,
- requires an accommodation in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and/or
- reasonably requires an accommodation in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code.
COVID-19 case numbers continue to drastically drop and the number of Canadians who have been vaccinated (first and second dose) continues to rise. With these two variables at play, we feel comfortable adjusting our mask policy as we forge forward and as our health and government officials continue to ease restrictions.
The revised policy referenced, which permits for the five noted exemptions to Nature Emporium’s mask wearing policy, will remain in effect as long as the public health situation reasonably permits it to remain in effect – recognizing that Nature’s Emporium, will, at all times, comply with all applicable legal requirements to which it is subject.
We recognize that many of our customers who have medical reasons precluding them from wearing masks, took issue with the original policy that was adopted and that they felt wronged and discriminated against. We sincerely regret that. It was never our intention. We have been working with the information that was available to us, and in line with our understanding of the legal obligations that are owed to our frontline workers.
We have made every effort to offer accommodations that would lessen the impact of the policy on those of our customers that were affected by it, but we recognize that in the eyes of some, those accommodations weren’t enough. As the province opens up and as we move forward together as a community, we welcome back all of our customers warmly and are eager to keep pushing forward together.
If any of our customers feel uncomfortable shopping in-store alongside customers who are unable to wear a mask, we ask that they reach out to the location manager on duty who will be able to provide a KN95 mask. These masks are made in Canada and have been proven to protect the wearer. Alternatively, these customers may also use our curbside pick-up or personal shopping services.
We continue to encourage everyone to follow health and safety protocols to help keep everyone safe:
Maintain a physical distance
Please remember to keep a safe distance from each other while shopping – at least 2 metres apart.
Please remember to sanitize your hands prior to entering the store. We have sanitization stations set up at each entrance.
Are you experiencing symptoms?
Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please have a friend or family member shop for you. Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 include the below:
- New onset of cough or worsening chronic cough
- Muscle aches and tiredness
- Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
- Runny nose, nasal congestion (without other known cause)
- Sore throat
- Decrease or loss of sense of taste or smell
- Chills, headaches
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
Have you been in contact with someone who has travelled internationally or tested positive for COVID-19? If the answer is yes to any of these, please refrain from leaving your home to shop in order to help prevent the potential spread of the virus.