Toronto city council has voted in favour of a motion to make masks mandatory inside businesses and public facilities in the city. This follows a press conference held by Mayor John Tory this morning alongside Dr. Eileen de Villa, where he said he would absolutely be supporting this recommendation.
“We are in the midst of reopening our city, safely restarting the economy, with an emphasis on the word safely,” said Tory at the press conference. “Wearing fabric masks or 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.”
Masks will become mandatory beginning next Tuesday, July 7 in all indoor public spaces. Dr. de Villa says the focus is on areas where the general public has regular and free access to. The bylaw will remain in place until the next city council meeting following summer recess which is scheduled for Sept. 30. Masks and face coverings have already been made mandatory on TTC vehicles starting July 2 and are required on city ferries to the island.
City councillor and board of health chair Joe Cressy also released a statement regarding the mandatory mask bylaw.
“We must keep listening to our public health experts as we transition our response into the recovery stage, and as our new information about this virus continues to emerge,” said Cressy. “That’s why I am urging city council to adopt Dr. de Villa’s recommendations and introduce a new city bylaw requiring masks or face coverings in enclosed public spaces.”
Cressy said that although science on mask usage and transmission continues to evolve, there is evidence that wearing a mask indoors can reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“For masks or face coverings to be effective, though, we need a critical mass — some studies estimate as high as 80 per cent compliance — to truly reduce transmission,” said Cressy, meaning almost all residents need to adopt the practice of wearing masks in order for this measure to be effective.
“It may be uncomfortable, it may look unusual, it may take you out of your comfort zone,” said Tory. “But our doctor says that it works.”
Other municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) have announced that they are also in favour of mandatory masks and will likely be putting similar bylaws into effect in those regions as well.