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Toronto and Peel Region making face coverings mandatory in enclosed public spaces


Other large Ontario communities doing same

TORONTO, ON., June 30, 2020 — Today, after consideration of an earlier report from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the City Solicitor, the Toronto City Council enacted a bylaw requiring masks or face coverings to be worn in enclosed public places in Toronto. The temporary bylaw is effective July 7 and will expire at 12:01 a.m. on the first day after the completion of the first Council meeting following summer recess (currently scheduled for September 30 and October 1, 2020), unless extended by Council.

Children under the age of two will not be required to wear a face covering, neither will anyone with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic I have asked you to take care of each other. Today I am making this recommendation and asking for you to do this once again,” de Villa said in making the announcement. “Our experience has been that Torontonians are interested in protecting our city and protecting their families, their neighbours, their friends and we see this as the next logical step.”

“We are in the midst of reopening our city, safely restarting the economy with an emphasis on ‘safely,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. “Wearing fabric masks and face coverings keep YOU from unknowingly spreading this COVID-19 virus and keeps the people around you from spreading it to you. It is about respecting and protecting each other…It may take you out of your comfort zone, I can say that is true for me because I have been wearing my mask regularly in recent times but our doctor (Dr. Eillen de Villa) says it works,” said Tory.

Guelph, Wellington County and Dufferin County already have a similar bylaw in place while shortly after Toronto’s announcement other major GTA cities followed suit. The mayors of Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon holding news conferences to announce they support enacting a similar bylaw making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces in their communities.

“Our efforts have paid off but we can’t let our guard down now,” said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “As our economy reopens and people start to gather again we inevitably open ourselves up to an increased risk of transmission. We may be done with the pandemic but it may not be done with us. That’s why we are today calling for mandatory masks in all indoor public spaces,” said Crombie. “To avoid a large second wave this fall we need to continue to practice the four core behavoiurs that Dr. Loh (Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel Medical Office of Health) discussed, maintaining a safe physical distance, wearing masks when that is not possible, washing your hands often and getting tested when appropriate. Masks by themselves are not the answer but they are a big part of the equation,” said Crombie.

The bylaw could be in effect in Brampton as early as July 7 pending council approval. While in Mississauga the next city council meeting is July 8, meaning the earliest the bylaw could take effect in that city would be July 9.

At Queen’s Park during his daily press conference today, Premier Doug Ford said mask “I encourage and complement the regions that are doing it but Toronto and Peel are different than Kenora and Rainy River.”

The City of Toronto says they have made significant progress in the fight against COVID-19. Toronto is now in Stage 2 of the Province of Ontario’s reopening framework, with many businesses and community settings reopening and many activities able to resume with COVID-19 precautions in place.

The City says while gradual reopening is taking place, COVID-19 is still circulating in Toronto and the risk for its continued spread remains. As of yesterday, there have been 14,270 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city, and tragically, 1,090 deaths. While the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to trend downward, new cases persist. Toronto can learn from other jurisdictions that have seen a recent rise in cases after reopening.

A growing body of scientific evidence suggests the use of masks is an inexpensive, acceptable, and non-invasive measure to help control the spread of COVID-19. Modelling studies suggest that if there is a high level of compliance in the wearing of masks, COVID-19 spread can be reduced.

Masks or face coverings will be required on TTC vehicles July 2 and are already required on City ferries to Toronto Island Park, as well as in certain business settings, like salons and tattoo parlours, as prescribed by orders under the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

The report from the Medical Officer of Health  is available online.

Face masks and coverings do not replace the need to keep a distance of two metres or six feet from others, wash hands often, and stay home when sick. A fact sheet  on how to properly and safely wear and care for a non-medical mask is available on toronto.ca.

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures. Check toronto.ca/covid-19 for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.

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