Toronto city council has voted to make wearing face masks mandatory in indoor, “openly accessible” public settings, on the recommendation of the City’s medical officer of health, on a temporary basis in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The bylaw is set to take effect on July 7. Wearing masks will be required for TTC riders as of Thursday. The measure could be in place until the end of September when council could then vote on a possible extension.
“It is about respecting and protecting each other,” said Tory during a news conference Tuesday morning before city council’s meeting.
“The risk of the spread of COVID-19 continues,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa.
“While the science on masks is still evolving, there is still a growing body of emerging evidence that show that non-medical masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
The bylaw requires businesses and operators, including retail stores, malls, grocery stores, restaurants, gyms, recreational facilities, to ensure policies are in place to require the coverings.
De Villa said that she asked for city council to enact the temporary bylaw and for the provincial and federal government to do the same.
“The reality is that the virus continues to circulate and we still need to be careful,” she said.
Toronto is currently in Stage 2 of the province’s reopening plan.
As of Monday, there have been 14,270 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Toronto and 1,090 deaths.
Mayors from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area asked Premier Doug Ford to make masks mandatory across Ontario yesterday.
Ford rejected the idea, so Tory, along with Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, all announced their intention to push for masks to be made mandatory in their municipalities.
Tory and de Villa both said that wearing a mask, however, does not mean people should stop practicing other health measures, including physical distancing, washing hands often and staying home when feeling ill.
Children under the age of two, people with medical conditions or those who cannot remove a mask without assistance will be exempt from the bylaw.
—With files from Nick Westoll and The Canadian Press