The Ontario government, in consultation with the Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, has amended orders O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3, under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, implementing additional measures for restaurants, bars, and other food or drink establishments, as the province carefully and gradually reopens.

Learn More:
Ontario Implementing Additional Measuring
Ontario – Laws and Regulation

Sarnia-Lambton moved into Stage 3 of A Framework for Reopening our Province July 24, 2020.

Visit Lambton Public Health’s website for information on how to wear a mask:

A sign from Lambton Public Health regarding masking and physical distancing for posting can be downloaded. The attached poster is compliant with By-Law 76 of 2020.


City Hall Regular Hours of Operation:
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, Monday to Friday – Excluding Holidays
519-332-0330 Ext 3131 or

The City of Sarnia remains committed to ensuring the health and safety of all residents by implementing preventative measures and public health best practices to reduce the risk of COVID-19 community spread.

Beginning July 31, 2020 wearing a face covering will be required in public indoor spaces in the city of Sarnia under the Mandatory Face Coverings By-law .The new by-law requires a face covering be worn in all enclosed public spaces in the city, including all City of Sarnia facilities and public transit.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. The infection spreads from close contact (less than 6 ft) with someone with COVID-19 through their respiratory droplets or touching our face with virus contaminated hands. Respiratory droplets can include coughing, sneezing, talking or even normal breathing.

What’s more, people may unknowingly pass the infection to others because they do not have symptoms (asymptomatic) or have not yet to develop symptoms (pre-symptomatic). The highest risk for infection is with prolonged unprotected close contact.

Let’s take care of each other

As the City of Sarnia has moved into Stage 3 of reopening, more people are gathering, returning to work, moving around the city and using public transit. Naturally, more people in public at any given time will make physical distancing (remaining 6 ft apart from others at all times) more challenging, and in some cases impossible.

Wearing face coverings indoors helps us keep our respiratory droplets to ourselves to prevent spreading germs to others. There is evidence that cloth masks can reduce the spread of respiratory droplets into the air and landing on surfaces. Visit for more information. 

Face Covering By-law Questions and Answers

Are face coverings effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19?

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings or talks. Droplets can travel up to 2 metres (6 feet) so wearing a face covering that covers your mouth, nose, and chin will help prevent respiratory droplets from reaching others or landing on surfaces. Wearing a face covering when in public spaces protects others from your respiratory droplets. This is especially important in situations where physical distancing is difficult or inconsistent such as retail establishments.

It is important to note that face coverings must be used in combination with frequent hand washing, not touching your face and physical distancing in public.

What is the proper way to wear/take off a face covering?

  • Do not share your face covering with others
  • Wash your hands before putting on and after taking off a mask
  • Place the face covering over your nose, mouth and chin
  • Avoid touching your face and face covering while using it
  • Change your face covering as soon as it is moist or dirty
  • Do not leave your face covering tucked under the chin, hanging from your ear, or on your forehead
  • Remove the face covering by the ear loops without touching the front of the face covering
  • Put used face covering(s) in a plastic bag or directly in the laundry bin to be washed
  • Launder cloth face coverings after use with other items using the hot cycle and dryer
  • Dispose of disposable face coverings (one-time use) in a sealed garbage. Do not expose others in public to a used face covering and be kind to the environment by disposing in a sealed bag properly.

Who is required to wear a face covering under this by-law?

Any customer, patron, employee or visitor, who enters an enclosed public place must wear a mask except for those who are exempt.

Who is exempt from wearing a face covering?

The by-law exempts:

  • a child who is under the age of 5 years old
  • a person who is unable to put on or remove a face covering without assistance
  • a person with a medical condition or other disability that inhibits their ability to wear a face covering, including persons who are reasonably accommodated pursuant to the (Ontario) Human Rights Code by not wearing a face covering
  • employees or agents of the owner or operator of any enclosed public place within or behind a physical barrier or within an area designated for them and to which the general public is not invited

The City asks that residents be honest about the exemptions outlined above, and that fellow citizens be respectful of those who are exempt. Let’s not shame each other, but rather take care of each other.

Does the by-law require business owners to turn away people who are not wearing a face covering?

Both individuals and business owners/operators have a responsibility to ensure that the individual in an indoor, public place is wearing a face covering.

The City is employing an education first approach to by-law enforcement of the Mask By-law; however, if a business owner/operator is regularly permitting entry to persons without face coverings the business owner could be charged for non compliance with the by-law. If an individual is simply refusing to comply with the by-law and is not exempt, the individual can be fined. If both are at fault for breaching the by-law, both could be fined.

Are business owners/operators required to ask for proof of exemption?

No. The by-law does not require people to provide proof of an exemption.

Where is wearing a face covering required?

  • public transit services, taxi cabs, courtesy shuttles and other paid transportation.
  • premises or any portion thereof which are used as a place
    of business for the sale or offering for sale of goods or
    services, and includes a mall or similar structure which
    contains multiple places of business;
  • churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, or other places
    of worship;
  • community centres including indoor recreational facilities;
    libraries, art galleries, museums, aquariums, zoos and
    other similar facilities;
  • community service agencies providing services to the
  • banquet halls, convention centres, arenas, stadiums, and
    other event spaces;
  • premises utilized as an open house, presentation centre, or
    other facility for real estate purposes;
  • common areas of hotels, motels and other short-term
    rentals, such as lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms or other
    common use facilities; and
  • concert venues, theatres, cinemas, casinos, and other
    entertainment facilities.

Are people required to wear a face covering while working out at a public gym?

As per section 7 of the by-law that reads: “the temporary removal of face coverings mandated within public areas is permitted where necessary for the purpose of receiving services. This includes the consumption of food and drink, or while actively engaged in a strenuous athletic or fitness activity.”

Are people required to wear a face covering in the lobby of a private residential condo or apartment building?

If the lobby or space is a common area where members of the general public gather, a face covering is required. The hallways and entrances of condos and apartment buildings are considered to be common areas and people should be masked when going through them, even though it may be space that is generally reserved for residents.

How is the by-law applied to indoor dining establishments?

Face coverings are required to enter and leave restaurants as well as in restrooms and general open public areas of restaurant establishments.

Do patrons on a patio need to wear a face covering if they use the inside washroom of an establishment?

Yes, patrons entering indoor hallways and washrooms of a restaurant or bar must put on a face covering. They can take off the face covering when returning to the outdoor patio.

Is a worship leader required to wear a face covering in a place of worship during the service?

No. The worship leader is not required to wear a face covering while leading the service. Areas where the public are not normally invited are exempt. The vestibule, pulpit, stage, etc. where the pastor, imam or rabbi stands or sits would not, normally, qualify as an indoor “public” place.

However, the worship leader would need to wear a face covering if in the public area for congregation.

Are worshippers required to wear a face covering in a place of worship during a service?

Face coverings must be worn in places of worship at all times except during a religious rite or ceremony incompatible with the wearing of a face covering AND where physical distancing can be maintained. For example, when participating in a sacrament (such as communion) where a worshiper is required eat and/or drink. This is difficult to do with the mouth and nose covered, so there is an exemption for this where physical distancing is also maintained.

No person shall attend a gathering to which this section applies unless the following conditions are met:

  1. The number of persons occupying any room in the building or structure while attending the gathering must not exceed 30 per cent of the capacity of the particular room. The Sarnia Mask By-Law would be applicable within the building, until attendees are seated.
  2.   All persons attending the gathering must comply with public health guidance on physical distancing

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services – Guidance on Health and Safety for Places of Worship During COVID-19

Do employees need to wear a face covering in staff only areas?

The by-law does not apply to staff-only areas such as lunch rooms and storerooms. Employers may have their own policies related to employee-only areas.

Employees are required to wear a face covering in areas where customers interact with one another or with staff members or in any areas that are accessible to members of the public, such as:

  • retail floor/aisles
  • cashier queues
  • service counter queues
  • publicly accessible washrooms

Workplaces may have other safety measures in place like plexiglass barriers, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, and physical distancing.

Are employees of a public business/service working behind a barrier where the public is not invited required to wear a face covering?

As per Section 6(d) of the by-law, employees or agents of the owner or operator of any enclosed public place within or behind a physical barrier or within an area designated for employees only and to which the general public is not invited are exempt from the by-law.

Who is responsible for providing face coverings?

Residents must supply their own face covering. Some business owners/operators will supply masks but they are not required to do so.

How will the face covering by-law be enforced?

The by-law will be enforced by the City’s By-law department using an education-first approach – asking people to comply with the by-law and educating them on the importance of protecting each other. We are appealing to residents’ goodwill to take care of each other and willingly cooperate to protect the health and safety of our community.

Is physical distancing (being 6 ft/2 metres apart from others) still necessary if/when wearing a face covering?

Wearing a face covering AND physical distancing is ideal and should be practiced whenever possible. Wearing a face covering is an important additional measure, especially when physical distancing is not possible. Also continue to practice other health measures such as washing your hands frequently. All measures practiced in combination is the most effective way to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.

Does an individual have to show proof of exemption from the by-law?

No. Proof is not required to show an individual is exempt from wearing a face covering. The expectation is that individuals who self-identify as exempt should be allowed into an enclosed indoor public place.

Is there a reporting process if someone is not wearing a face covering indoors?

It’s important to keep in mind that the City’s By-law department will not be able to respond to all calls and will be focusing efforts primarily on education and encouraging of compliance rather than enforcement. Business owners/operators can contact the City at 519-332-0330 if non-compliance is significant and ongoing and additional educational resources and support are needed.

Is a face shield an acceptable alternative for a face covering?

Use of a face shield as an alternative face covering is compliant with the City’s Mandatory Face Covering By-law, however, at this time public health officials are recommending  cloth coverings as a more effective option to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 virus transmission.

In workplaces such as Personal Service Settings and Food Premises, Lambton Public Health does not consider face shields an acceptable replacement for a face covering or mask for employees.

How long will the by-law be in effect?

This by-law shall remain in full force and effect until December 31,
2020 unless revoked or extended by Council.