Toronto City Council approves mandatory masks or face coverings in apartments and condominiums

Toronto City Council has voted in favour of a temporary bylaw requiring masks or face coverings in common areas in apartments and condominiums to protect the health and safety of our communities by reducing the spread of COVID-19. The strengthened safety measure responds to concerns that the opportunity for more close contact, especially in indoor settings, will result in more virus spread.

The new bylaw, recommended by the Medical Officer of Health and City Solicitor, will require building owners or operators to have a policy to ensure masks or face coverings are worn by individuals in the enclosed common spaces, such as lobbies, elevators and laundry rooms, and post corresponding signage. The bylaw formalizes last week’s strong recommendation from Mayor Tory and the Medical Officer of Health for all building owners and operators to proactively require masks or face coverings in common areas. Like the City’s existing mask or face covering bylaw, the recommendation includes exemptions for individuals who are unable to wear a mask or face covering for medical reasons, children under two years old, and other reasonable accommodations. The bylaw comes into effect on Wednesday, August 5.

Toronto Public Health has created guidance documents for commercial and residential buildings: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-reopening-recovery-rebuild/covid-19-reopening-guidelines-for-businesses-organizations/covid-19-guidance-commercial-or-residential-buildings/. The City of Toronto is also creating signage that building operators can print off and display in common areas. Signage will be available online: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-how-you-can-help/covid-19-spread-the-word/?accordion=face-masks-coverings.

Toronto Public Health recommends wearing a mask or face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests the use of masks and face coverings is an inexpensive, acceptable and non-invasive measure to help control the spread of the virus. COVID-19 is spread through contact with the respiratory droplets produced by someone who is infected when they cough, sneeze, or even when they laugh or speak, including by individuals who may not have symptoms – known as being asymptomatic. Evidence suggests wearing a mask reduces the likelihood of droplets infecting those around an individual.

The City of Toronto is continuing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for a second wave of COVID-19 activity as the city enters Stage 3 reopening on Friday. Residents can learn about what to expect and what is required as Toronto moves into the new normal and they begin to visit more establishments and take part in more activities at www.toronto.ca/ReopenTO.

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/home/covid-19/ for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.

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“Today, City Council took further action to make sure we are doing everything we can as a City government to stop the spread of COVID-19. This measure for masks and face coverings in common areas in apartments and condos was strongly recommended by our public health professionals. Many buildings have already done this voluntarily but we have heard from tenants and condo dwellers asking for this measure to be mandated. I encourage all buildings to adopt a face covering policy for common areas as quickly as possible to help us continue to protect the health of our residents and fight this pandemic.”

– Mayor John Tory