Chief Hansen says discretion, education key to mandatory mask wearing

Sarnia Police Chief Norm Hansen Blackburn News Sarnia File photo (By Melanie Irwin)

Sarnia’s police chief says discretion and education will be key as the city’s mandatory mask bylaw comes into effect Friday.

Masks are now required in all indoor public spaces after council approved the temporary measure earlier this week.

Norm Hansen urges residents to avoid confronting anyone who isn’t wearing a mask.

He said they don’t want to impose fines or charges.

“Someone does not have to disclose why they can’t wear a mask,” said Hansen. “So, there’s going to have to be discretion all around. However any business, person or building has the right to ban somebody if they don’t want to wear a mask.”

Hansen said it’s up to bylaw officers to enforce the rules, but police could also get involved.

He said the most effective way to report noncompliance is to email the COVID hotline at covid@sarnia.ca or call 1-877-472-7642.

Hansen said the vast majority of people have been very cooperative when it comes to things like physical distancing.

Violators could face a fine of up to $1,000 but Hansen says that’s only in the most extreme circumstances.