MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- The City of London has issued a reminder about mandatory face coverings in indoor public spaces after bylaw officers spoke to about 80 people over the last month who were not masked.

The city says that since the bylaw came into effect on July 21, enforcement officers have visited 1,500 businesses and spoken to approximately 80 people who were not wearing a face covering indoors.

In addition to continuing to educate people about the requirements, the city can now start to issue $500 fines as well.

“We’ve been very fortunate to see a high level of compliance during our visits to businesses across the city and in speaking with Londoners,” says Orest Katolyk, chief bylaw enforcement officer, in a statement. “We hope to see the continued compliance. With the approval of a set fine, officers have the discretion to now also issue fines when necessary. ”

The temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw was implemented to help stop the spread of COVID-19 on the advice of the Middlesex-London Health Unit Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie.

It requires anyone in an indoor public space to wear a mask or face covering like a bandana or scarf that covers the nose, mouth and chin, and for businesses to post visible signs regarding the bylaw. Masks can temporarily be removed for services, eating or fitness activity.

Children under 12 and those who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons are exempt, and are not required to show proof of exemption.

In addition to the bylaw, residents are encouraged to maintain proper hand washing or sanitizing and practice physical distancing even when wearing a mask.

Similar mandatory mask bylaws or public health instructions are in place for the majority of southwestern Ontario, with the exception of some parts of Lambton County.