MONTREAL -- The decision to impose mandatory masks in closed public places is “reasonable in the COVID-19 pandemic context,” said Quebec’s Ombudsman.

The independent ombudsman felt the need to take a stand on the measure after having received “a large number of requests” about it.

In a notice published on its website on Tuesday, the Quebec Ombudsman, whose mandate is to ensure respect for the rights of citizens in their relations with public services, said it considers Francois Legault’s government’s decision to be “reasonable.”

The Quebec Ombudsman even said he encourages wearing masks “since this measure aims to better protect the health and safety of citizens during the health crisis.”

By sharing the position on social media, the organization has attracted the ire of many Internet users, including some conspiracy theorists.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Quebec’s director of public health Horacio Arruda acknowledged that citizens are rebelling against the idea of having to cover their faces. He said he received emails comparing him to dictators, including Stalin.

The requirement to wear a mask or face covering in public indoor spaces will come into effect as of Saturday across the province.

Children under the age of 12 and people with certain medical conditions will be exempt.

Business owners and other closed public places will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new regulations, under penalty of fines ranging from $400 to $6,000.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2020.