‘We are doing it for everyone’: Côte Saint-Luc aims to curb spread of COVID-19 with mask bylaw

A woman wears a face mask and another does not as they wait in line outside a store on Ste-Catherine Street in Montreal, Sunday, May 31, 2020. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

As Quebec continues to ease lockdown measures, the City of Côte Saint-Luc is taking a new step in its effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

A new bylaw, which was adopted by city council on Monday evening, makes wearing a mask mandatory in indoor public spaces such as stores and municipal buildings starting July 1. Hand sanitizer will also be installed by doors and elevators.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said during the special council meeting that the safety measure will protect residents in the on-island suburb from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“We are doing it for everyone,” he said.

READ MORE: Côte Saint-Luc to make masks mandatory in public indoor spaces

When it comes to enforcement, business owners must turn away customers who are not donning masks. Fines could be handed out to those who flout the rules.

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There are exceptions for those with health issues, however. Under the bylaw, people who have difficulties breathing or hearing will not be forced to wear a mask.

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As the health crisis continues, Coun. Dida Berku said she feels the measure is a reasonable request to make of residents and merchants in Côte Saint-Luc.

“It should help in preventing the spread of the virus,” she said.

In May, Brownstein explained that making masks mandatory will help put seniors at ease and make them feel safe in the community. About one-third of the population of Côte Saint-Luc is 65 years or older.

Côte Saint-Luc has 492 cases of COVID-19 as of May 31. There have been 34 deaths in the city attributable to the virus.

READ MORE: Physical distancing, mask use cuts relative coronavirus risk by at least 80%, study finds

The Quebec government is encouraging people to wear masks when they leave the house or take public transit, but it is not obligatory. The province is the hardest hit by the crisis, with more than 50,000 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.

However, Brownstein said he thinks other municipalities and governments will follow suit as lockdown restrictions aimed at stemming the crisis are lifted.

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“We hope that we are making some history,” said Brownstein. “And that Mr. Legault and others are listening.”

Premier François Legault has stopped short of making masks obligatory. No changes are imminent in the wake of Côte Saint-Luc’s bylaw.

“We don’t have plans to make it mandatory,” he said on Tuesday.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Montreal municipality makes masks mandatory inside public buildings – May 21, 2020

— With files from Global News’ Dan Spector and the Canadian Press

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