Toronto City Council approved a temporary bylaw to mandate face masks in indoor settings to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
On Tuesday, City Council voted to pass the bylaw based off of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa’s recommendations to have face masks and coverings inside facilities and businesses.
The bylaw will be effective July 7 and would be in effect until the end of September, where it will be reevaluated by City Council.
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“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 earlier on Tuesday.
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.”
De Villa also 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,” she said.
There is also 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.
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.