Report from Medical Officer of Health recommends Toronto City Council make masks and face coverings mandatory in enclosed public places

Toronto City Council will today consider reports by the Medical Officer of Health and the City Solicitor on requiring masks or face coverings in enclosed public places in Toronto. The Medical Officer of Health has recommended City Council enact a temporary bylaw effective July 7 requiring the wearing of masks or face coverings in enclosed public settings to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. The new bylaw would 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.

The Medical Officer of Health recommends that City Council enact this temporary bylaw requiring masks and face coverings in indoor public spaces by utilizing Council’s authority to legislate for the protection of the health, safety and well-being of persons in Toronto.

Toronto has 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.

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: https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-148577.pdf. Today’s Council meeting will be streamed live on the City Council YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfe2rzOnQzgEDvNzRRPUJsA.

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 at https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/97f8-COVID-19-Guidance-for-Use-of-Face-Masks-and-Coverings-by-Public.pdf.

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