Starting July 7, Toronto residents will be required to wear a face mask or covering in indoor settings.
The temporary bylaw was passed by City Council on June 30 and is based on recommendations from Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa.
The new bylaw will require businesses to adopt a policy to ensure masks or face coverings are worn in indoor public spaces under their control.
According to the City, it will apply to all indoor spaces that are openly accessible to the public, including the following:
- retail stores
- convenience stores
- malls, shopping plazas
- grocery stores, bakeries, farmers’ markets (enclosed areas)
- restaurants, bars (when permitted to open for indoor service)
- indoor recreational facilities, gyms, swimming pools (when permitted to open)
- community centres
- community service agencies
- personal service settings
- churches, mosque, synagogue, temples, and faith settings
- art galleries, museums, aquariums, zoos
- banquet halls, convention centres, arenas, stadiums, and other event spaces
- real estate facilities such as open house, presentation centres
- common areas in hotels, motels, and short-term rentals (e.g., lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms)
- entertainment facilities including concert venues, theatres, cinemas, casinos
- business offices open to the public
The bylaw will include exemptions for those who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, children under the age of two, and other reasonable accommodations.
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However, residents are permitted the temporary removal of a mask or face covering when receiving services, having a meal, or engaging in athletic or fitness activity, and will not apply to apartment buildings and condominiums, child care facilities and schools, and areas that are not enclosed, like patios.
The temporary measures will expire at 12:01 am on the first day after the completion of the first Council meeting following summer recess — currently scheduled for September 30 and October 1 — unless extended by Council.
De Villa will then review the recommendations regarding masks and face coverings on a monthly basis and report if any changes are required before September 30.
The City and Toronto Public Health staff are also in the process of creating updated signage and guidelines to support businesses. Initial enforcement of the bylaw will focus on education and otherwise be complaint-based.
De Villa’s recommendations are based on a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests the use of masks and face coverings is an “inexpensive, acceptable, and non-invasive measure to help control the spread of COVID-19.”
The virus is spread through contact with the respiratory droplets produced by someone who is infected when they cough, sneeze, or even when they laugh or speak, including by individuals who may not have symptoms – known as being asymptomatic.
Evidence suggests wearing a mask reduces the likelihood of droplets infecting those around an individual.