Toronto looking to make face masks mandatory in indoor settings

Jun 30 2020, 6:09 am

Toronto is looking to implement a temporary bylaw mandating face masks in indoor settings.

On Tuesday, Mayor John Tory said the Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa will provide recommendations later today at City Council to make it mandatory to wear face masks and coverings inside facilities and businesses.

Tory said he supports the recommendations and if approved the bylaw would be effective July 7. It would be in effect until the end of September, where it will be reevaluated by City Council.

“We need clear direction on face coverings. From health and the law, clarity is needed on the topic of face coverings we are in the midst of reopening the city with an emphasis on the word safety,” Tory said.

The mayor added that for enforcement, they will rely largely on education and public awareness.

“Residents will do it because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

When looking at public transit or other indoor spaces where masks are mandatory, there is at least a 90% compliance.

There will not be “aggressive enforcement” as Tory noted, the City does not have the resources to look at “every store and every person.”

Health Board Chair, Councillor Joe Cressy, said that he is urging City Council to adopt de Villa’s recommendations to introduce the new city bylaw.

“We must keep listening to our public health experts as we transition our response into the recovery stage, and as our new information about this virus continues to emerge,” Cressy said.

De Villa noted that indoor settings have a higher rate of virus spread and places that mandate wearing face masks have more people complying with the order.

“The reality is the virus continues to circulate and we still need to be careful. We are still in the middle of a pandemic. While we have made great progress, we cannot take our progress for granted,” de Villa said.

She added that a growing body of scientific evidence suggests the use of masks is an inexpensive and non-invasive measure to help control the spread of the virus.

While de Villa said that it would be better for the province to mandate the bylaw, the City is moving ahead with it for areas within the GTA.

Cressy echoed that while the most efficient way to require masks or face coverings would be through a provincial order, in the interest of expediency, “we cannot afford to wait.”

On Monday, the Greater Toronto and Hamilton mayors and chairs put forth a letter asking 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.

Exemptions will be made for children under two years of age and for those who have medical considerations or are unable to put on or take off a face covering.

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.

To date, there are 14,270 total cases of coronavirus in the city, with 12,360 recovered.

There are 218 people hospitalized, with 55 in ICU and 1,090 deaths.

Masks or face coverings will be required on TTC vehicles July 2 and are already required on City ferries to Toronto Island Park, as well as in certain business settings, like salons and tattoo parlours, as prescribed by orders under the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.