Waterloo regional council has approved bylaws that will require people to wear masks on Grand River Transit and in some public places starting July 13.
Council unanimously approved the measures during a marathon meeting on Monday night that lasted more than seven hours.
“These bylaws provide clarity to individuals and businesses of the importance of wearing masks and face coverings to help us protect and respect each other,” Regional Chair Karen Redman said in a statement.
“This is a key element to support our business community as we move forward, safely, with economic reopening and recovery.”
The region’s top doctor says she is on board with the council’s decision to enact the bylaws.
“These bylaws support my strong recommendation that people wear masks when physical distancing is not possible, especially in enclosed, indoor settings and on public transit,” acting medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said.
The bylaws will be in place until Sept. 30 unless council chooses to extend them.
Council chose to remove a section of the proposed bylaw that would place part of the onus of enforcing the bylaw on stores.
The bylaw will be enforced on a complaint-only basis.
Read more: Should masks be mandatory? It depends
Children under the age of five, those who are unable to wear a face covering as a result of a medical condition or a disability and those engaged in sport or strenuous physical activity have been exempted.
Face masks will be required in the following locations, with some exceptions, once the bylaws come into effect:
- Buses, bus shelters, ION trains and ION platforms
- Stores and shopping malls
- Indoor areas of restaurants and bars, with the exception of patrons consuming food and drink
- Professional services such as counselling, personal care, funeral homes and repair and rental services
- Lobby areas of commercial buildings
- Hotels and motels, with the exception of rented rooms
- Indoor areas of fitness centres, gyms and recreational and sports facilities
- Indoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas
- Arcades and other indoor amusement facilities
- Museums, galleries, historic sites, etc.
- Places of worship
- Municipal buildings
The bylaws don’t cover federal or provincial buildings, colleges, universities or schools, hospitals or health facilities, employee-only areas of businesses and other buildings.
The region says an education campaign will soon get underway that will include website and social media messaging, digital advertising, distribution of mask bylaw posters and decals to businesses and the supplying of free masks to riders at transit stations.