Municipal FAQs

Newfoundland and Labrador is currently in Alert Level 2.

  • Download MNL’s guidance document on Alert Level 2
  • Download MNL’s guidance document on the Mandatory Mask Order

 

MNL and PMA have come together to provide recommendations in key areas based upon inquiries from our members. Should you have specific questions, please email covid19@municipalnl.ca.

We recommend that all municipal leaders read the community-based measures section of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s information on mitigating the spread of coronavirus disease. These include:

  1. Physical Distancing Controls (signage, floor markings, separating workspaces),
  2. Engineering Controls (physical barriers, enhanced cleaning),
  3. Administrative Controls (staggered schedules, working from home, screening and assessments, and special options for at-risk populations) and
  4. Personal Protective Equipment (surgical and non-surgical masks, gloves, gowns/coveralls).

 

Mandatory Mask Order

Effective August 24, 2020, in accordance with the Special Measures Order (Masks) wearing a non-medical mask that covers the nose and mouth, will be mandatory in Newfoundland and Labrador for people five years old and above in public indoor places.

This includes places where municipal or government services are offered and other municipally-owned/operated indoor spaces such as places where sports or recreational activities are practiced.

Requirements under the OHS Act and Regulations continue to apply for the protection of all workers. Click here to view the government website on Non-Medical Mask Use in Indoor Public Spaces.

 

Download PDF guidance document

 

What is a public indoor space?

Public indoor space is any space, workplace or otherwise inside, where two or more people are co-located and/or gathered.

 

Do I have to wear a mask at work?

Masks are required at work in common spaces such as hallways and when employees cannot physically distance by 6 feet from other employees. Masks are not required when employees are seated and are physically distanced from others. Requirements under the OHS Act and Regulations continue to apply for the protection of all workers. MNL recommends reading more information from Stewart McKelvey on mask wearing at work here.

 

Do councillors/staff have to wear masks at in-person council meetings?

Once councillors and staff are seated (2 meters apart) for the meeting, masks can be removed. Masks must be worn at all other times when moving around indoor spaces. Guidance on specific places, as provided by Stewart McKelvey, can be found here.

 

Do members of the public require masks when they attend a public meeting?

If members of the public attend a council meeting, they must wear a mask until they are seated 2 meters apart from others at the meeting. Masks must be worn at all other times when moving around indoor spaces. All other regulations concerning the size of the gathering must be followed.

 

If employees are fully covered by plexiglass barriers and their only interaction with members of the public is through slots, do they also need to wear masks?

If employees are completely separated via an appropriate barrier, the protection provided would be ok to permit them to not wear a mask. Discretion should be used.  Requirements under the OHS Act and Regulations continue to apply for the protection of all workers.

 

 Who is exempt from wearing a mask?

  • Children under the age of 5;
  • People with physical or mental health conditions – people whose particular physical condition or mental health prevents them from wearing a mask (please see here for further explanation of these conditions);
  • During treatments, services, or physical activity where a mask must be removed, for the duration of the treatment, service or activity only;
  • Showing identification;
  • Seated areas – provided physical distancing of two metres can be achieved between individuals or bubbles and provided they wear a mask when moving around the indoor setting, masks are not required when individuals are seated, including in these places:
    • in the classrooms of a post-secondary educational institution,
    • in a place where activities or services of a religious, cultural, or entertainment nature are offered, and
    • in a restaurant, food court, or a lounge.

 

Is a doctor’s note required for those individuals who are exempt?

The Special Measures Order (SMO) does not require individuals who are not able to wear a mask to provide medical documentation.

Related to this and given that we are still under a public health emergency, it is our understanding that employees are still exempt from providing a sick note to their employer when they stay home due to illness, as per earlier COVID guidelines.

 

Council Meetings

You may have an in-person council meeting as per the MAE circular, dated May 8, 2020. You have to be able to follow the public health and safety guidelines, including adequate space to physically distance and it still has to be accessible to the public.

MNL and PMA recommend that where possible and practical, councils continue to meet virtually while ensuring public access to those virtual meetings. If a council is contemplating in- person meetings, MNL recommends assessing whether it is necessary for it to be in person, whether a physically-distanced, in-person meeting is possible in your current facility, and whether there are members of council who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 exposure. Please remember that all meetings, whether in person or not, must be accessible to the public. MNL recommends that in person meetings, if they go ahead, should still be live broadcasted.

Town offices

We recommend that town offices open if public health guidelines for workplaces can be followed. In cases where a full opening to the public is not possible, we recommend operating by appointment only.

Click here for public health information on Risk-Informed Decision Making Guidance for Employers Operating During COVID-19.

MNL and PMA recommend that you speak with your employees to determine whether working outside of the home is possible for them, and whether they feel comfortable doing so. If you are looking for more specific guidance on back to work arrangements, please email covid19@municipalnl.ca.

Essential and emergency services

All essential services should continue as per public health and safety guidelines.

First aid providers caring for people with suspected COVID-19 should follow standard precautions. If possible, have the sick person place a mask over their nose and mouth, if they have not done so already, and limit contact by staying back at least 2 meters, if possible, until that person has done so.

  • Try to limit the number of individuals in contact with the sick person. Those who provide direct care for someone who may have COVID-19 should wear a mask and gloves.
  • Following care, first aid providers should discard the mask and gloves following usual procedures and perform hand hygiene as they would normally do.

With respect to lifesaving, it should be noted that Heart and Stroke guidelines state that hands-only CPR can be provided if there are concerns about COVID-19 transmission. For more information visit https://www.heartandstroke.ca/articles/modification-to-hands-only-cpr-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

Municipal beaches and walking trails

These public spaces may open with appropriate and proper signage outlining health and safety guidelines. Public health guidance on outdoor recreational activities can be found here. 

MNL and PMA recommend signage to promote one-way walking and signage that reflects public health physical distance and gathering guidelines. 

Municipal Campgrounds

Campgrounds may open following public health guidance.  Playgrounds may open following public health guidance for parks and using these guidelines for cleaning/disinfection of playground structures.

Public health guidance on Outdoor Recreational Activities can be found here.

MNL and PMA recommend that members open municipal campgrounds if they are able to operate them within the guideline parameters and have the staffing capacity to do so.

Recreational facilities, pools and playgrounds

Under Alert Level 2, additional municipal recreational facilities may reopen.

Click here for Outdoor Recreational Activities guidance.
Click here for Indoor Recreational Facilities guidance.

  • Gyms and fitness facilities may open following public health guidance.
  • Arenas may open following public health guidance.
  • Bingo halls may reopen following public health guidance.
Pools:
  • Outdoor swimming pools may open following public health guidance.
  • Indoor swimming pools may open following public health guidance.
Playgrounds:

Playground equipment may be used following public health Guidance for Parks which states "Municipalities and community groups may choose to open playground structures with public health measures in place, wherever possible, including: posted signage regarding physical distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, and routine monitoring."

If your community is not able to meet all the protocols outlined in the public health Guidance for Parks and your council decides to open these facilities, you must put up the appropriate signage and inform residents publicly that this is the case. A sample facility safety sign can be found below.

  • Playground structures may be used following public health sanitization guidance.
  • Click here for Facility Safety Sign to post in your municipality. (Artwork courtesy of The City of St. John's)
  • Click here for Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings

Specifically for playground equipment, our recommendation is that municipalities open playgrounds, if they are able to conduct the required sanitization guidelines. If this is not possible we recommend posting signage indicating that the facility is not sanitized (facility safety sign).  We understand that members may have questions regarding specific facilities. Should you have a question and are uncertain, please email covid19@municipalnl.ca.

MNL and PMA recommend that members open permitted recreational facilities if they are able to operate them within the public health guidance and have the staffing capacity to do so.

Day Camp programs

Day camps are permitted to operate following public health guidelines.

MNL is working closely with its partners to provide greater detail on day camp possibilities and structure. We recommend that municipalities assess whether a day camp is feasible for this summer by exploring the following questions:

  • Do our residents need a day camp?
  • Do they want it?
  • Can we do it?
  • How can we offer it within the guidelines?

MNL and PMA recognize that day camps are an integral part of supporting families and children throughout the summer under normal circumstances. We are here to support our members in your decisions making processes.

Supporting the business community

Under Alert Level 2, more businesses will be able to reopen in our communities. Please click here for guidance for Businesses and Workplaces

MNL and PMA recommend that municipalities encourage the support of local businesses as they reopen through communication with the local business community regarding their needs; through supporting buy local campaigns, and through encouraging a welcoming community spirit while communicating clear public health and safety guidelines to visitors. This can be done through proper signage.