BARRIE, ONT. -- Wearing a face covering will soon be required for anyone going into an indoor business, organization, or on public transit across Simcoe Muskoka.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said businesses would have a policy in place as of Monday enforcing the requirement.

Health officials said the decision came about because of an increase in the risk of a second wave of COVID.

"Locally, we are seeing more visitors from other parts of the province with a much higher incidence of COVID-19, resulting in crowding in public spaces. This has us concerned," said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU's medical officer of health.

Health unit staff will work with businesses and organizations to implement the policy using things like signs and verbal reminders.

Still, health officials said businesses wouldn't be required to turn anyone away who refuses to cover their faces.

Dr. Gardner said there is evidence that wearing a face mask could limit the spread of the virus going forward.

"Requiring the public to wear a face-covering is an extra step to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and is key for the continued successful reopening of the local economy and to safeguard our residents against the virus in circulation now, into the fall and beyond," he added.

There are certain exemptions for wearing a face covering, including age, religious practices and medical circumstances.

A face covering means a medical or non-medical mask or other face coverings such as a bandana, a scarf or cloth that covers the mouth and nose, according to the health unit.