Toronto makes face masks mandatory indoors

City council has passed a temporary bylaw that takes effect next week and will last until at least September


Masks will become mandatory in all indoor public spaces in Toronto.

On Tuesday, city council voted to adopt temporary bylaw that asks businesses to ensure non-medical masks or face coverings are worn by customers in public spaces under their control. 

The bylaw takes effect on July 7.

Mayor John Tory and Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa had recommended the move at a press conference earlier in the day.

“We know that some jurisdictions around the world, including many in the United States, are experiencing a resurgence of cases since reopening,” de Villa said at a news conference. “And as we approach our reopening, let us not forget that our progress took a great deal of work and sacrifice.”

De Villa said there is growing evidence that non-medical masks are helping curb spread of COVID-19 when combined with other measures, like hand washing and physical distancing. Risk of infection is higher indoors than outdoors, she said.

“We need as many people as possible wearing cloth masks for face coverings to reduce virus spread,” she added. “We’ve also observed that places that have required mask use have more people complying with the wearing of masks.”

The bylaw does not require people with certain medical conditions or children under two years old to wear masks.

The recommendation is part of a report that also asks the province and federal government to enact a complementary mask regulation that would apply to closed public spaces within their jurisdictions, de Villa said.

The new rule takes effect not long after masks become mandatory on the TTC on July 2. It would be reviewed again at a city council meeting in September.

Tory added there will no be an aggressive enforcement campaign since the city has noted “90 per cent compliance” on public transit and other spaces where masks are encouraged or required.

“We’re going to rely largely on education and public awareness,” Tory said. “There won’t really be an aggressive enforcement. To be candid about it, we don’t have the resources to go around and look in every store, look at every person.”

Mayors across the GTA and Hamilton have called on the province to enact a mandatory mask policy. On Monday night, a spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott told media outlets that an Ontario-wide law isn’t necessary and public health units have the power to enact mandatory face covering policies locally.

@KevinRitchie

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