Published Tuesday, June 30, 2020 6:06AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 30, 2020 10:13AM EDT
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa made the announcement during a news conference at city hall on Tuesday morning, noting that in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 the city needs “as many people as possible wearing cloth masks or face coverings.”
The bylaw will take effect July 7, provided it is approved by council during their meeting today.
Children under the age of two will be exempted from the policy, as 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.”
The mayors and chairs of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area municipalities wrote an open letter on Monday asking the province to issue a blanket order making masks mandatory in large municipalities but Health Minister Christine Elliot refused to do so, citing the fact that local officials already have the authority to implement the policy under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
In her report that will be considered by city council today, de Villa’s said that requiring masks in indoor settings is “essential” to preventing the spread of COVID-19 but she cited studies suggesting that compliance will need to be as high as 80 per cent in order for it to work.
Speaking with reporters during Tuesday’s news conference, Mayor John Tory said that the bylaw will place “a lot of the responsibility” on businesses by mandating that they have a policy requiring the wearing of face masks on their premises.
“There won’t really be an aggressive enforcement. To be candid about it we don’t really have the resources to go around and look at every store and look at every person that is in one of those places,” he said. “We are going to rely on people by and large to get educated and to do the right thing.”