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Masks to be made mandatory inside common areas of Hamilton apartment buildings and condos

If approved at next week's council meeting, it will soon be mandatory for Hamilton residents to wear masks inside the common areas of apartment buildings and condos.
If approved at next week's council meeting, it will soon be mandatory for Hamilton residents to wear masks inside the common areas of apartment buildings and condos. Zou Zheng/Xinhua via ZUMA Press

It will soon be mandatory for Hamilton residents to wear a mask in common areas of apartment buildings, condos and other multi-residential buildings.

Councillors unanimously voted to amend the existing indoor mask bylaw to make the change, following the lead of nearby municipalities like Burlington and Toronto.

The change still needs to be ratified during the next council meeting on Sept. 30, which seems likely, as it was unanimously approved at Monday’s board of health meeting.

Once that happens, it will take effect Oct. 1 and apply to all indoor areas in multi-residential buildings that are shared spaces, including elevators and laundry rooms.

Read more: Coronavirus: Niagara Region extends mandatory mask bylaw

Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann says she’s heard from many residents who feel a “sense of precarity” while in common areas in their buildings alongside others who aren’t wearing masks.

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“I know that many residents will be feeling a sense of relief, seeing these additions.”

Coun. Maria Pearson said she’s been contacted by those who live in condos in Ward 10 who were also calling for multi-residential buildings to be added to the bylaw.

“We have to be cognizant of the fact that there are residents who may be seniors who have health issues who live in these facilities as well, and they need to be protected. So I’m thrilled to support this.”

Dr. Ninh Tran, associate medical officer of health, recommended councillors approve the change to prevent the coronavirus from spreading more easily in spaces where people are living in close proximity, although he acknowledged the virus hasn’t necessarily been spreading that way frequently in Hamilton.

“We do know that gatherings in common areas could potentially pose an additional risk, but locally, fortunately, we have not seen that play. But we’re hoping to get ahead of it.”

Read more: Toronto makes masks mandatory in common areas of residential buildings

Toronto and Peel Region were the first municipalities to make masks mandatory inside common spaces of apartments and condos on August 5.

They were followed by York Region, and Burlington made the move later in August.

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Enforcement of the addition will be complaint-driven, much like any other part of the bylaw.

“If we received a complaint that people were not wearing their masks in their lobby or in their elevator, we would definitely respond,” said Monica Ciriello, manager of the city’s licensing divison.

“We’d be going and we’d be talking to the landlords, we’d be talking to the people that would be overseeing the establishment, to ensure that they had the proper signage and they were enforcing the bylaw on their behalf.”

Hamilton’s indoor mask bylaw, which took effect on July 20, is scheduled to be reviewed every three months. That means it will be up for review again in October.