On Tuesday, Mayor John Tory asked city council to make masks mandatory in public indoor settings to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and the bylaw was approved later the same day.
The temporary bylaw was recommended by Toronto’s medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa. It comes into effect on July 7 and will be reviewed by de Villa on a monthly basis. It will remain in effect into September, and could be extended if deemed necessary.
De Villa said at a press conference on Tuesday that only children under two years old and people with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing masks can be exempted from the bylaw.
Tory said the temporary bylaw does not affect social gatherings but will apply to public spaces including stores and other businesses.
Tory noted the bylaw takes effect shortly after masks become mandatory on the city’s public transit system. That rule will come into place on Thursday, with single-use masks being handed out to passengers who do not have one.
On Monday, mayors from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area asked Premier Doug Ford to make masks mandatory across Ontario.
Ford rejected the idea, so Tory as well as Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown have all announced their intention to make masks mandatory in their respective municipalities and in the Peel Region.
“We know we are at a critical time in the fight against COVID-19, and that we must do everything we can to avoid the flareups that we’ve seen in other places,” Tory said. “All of these measures will help stop the spread of COVID-19 right across the GTA.”
According to a news release from the City of Toronto, 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.
Meanwhile, Quebec Premier François Legault announced this morning that masks will be mandatory on public transit in Quebec starting July 13 for everyone above age 12. He also emphasized that wearing a mask doesn’t mean fear, but respect.
With files from The Canadian Press.