The Greater Toronto and Hamilton mayors and chairs want the Ontario government to make wearing face masks mandatory for large municipalities in indoor and outdoor settings.
And, that any such order should apply to indoor and outdoor public settings, but would include “appropriate exceptions” for age and health.
On Monday, the GTHA mayors and chairs met to discuss the ongoing response to COVID-19 and the need to take further action to protect residents.
“With the entire GTHA now in Stage 2 of the provincial reopening process, the Mayors and Chairs are committed to supporting the economic restart and ensuring we continue to do everything possible to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” the statement said.
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According to the mayors, they are committed to working with their local medical officers of health to explore how they can implement the wearing of non-medical masks and face coverings inside businesses and other indoor places where the public gathers, including on transit.
This would likely include mandatory face coverings in certain circumstances which some municipalities have already adopted. And, subject to consultation with Medical Officers of Health it is expected GTHA municipalities will be addressing this matter in the immediate future.
“We are at a critical time in the fight against COVID-19. We must do everything we can to avoid flare-ups of the virus in our communities,” the mayors said.
They also urged the province to continue to take a “measured approach” when moving to Stage 3 of the reopening and further encouraged the Ontario government to embrace a regional approach to these decisions, in order to take into account differing circumstances.
For example, the mayors said that they are taking particular note of the difficult circumstances of the hospitality and restaurant industry, and support the examination of some accelerated openings for that industry.
“Committing to regional action on face coverings is one more way the GTHA municipalities are working to support the restart of our economy which is crucial to the economic success of Ontario and Canada,” the mayors added.
“We continue to call on the federal and provincial governments to take action to financially support the GTHA municipalities for the costs incurred and revenues lost during the pandemic.”
The growing desire to make face masks mandatory comes as regions enter the next stage of reopening, which will cause more people to gather or congregate in public settings.
While the best way to avoid spreading the virus is to stand six feet apart from people not within your social circles, this won’t always be applicable. Therefore, wearing face masks can offer extra protection for others and provide peace-of-mind for many.
Health officials have said when unable to keep a safe physical distance from others wearing a face covering should be done.