Toronto city council to vote on making masks mandatory indoors

Toronto city council will consider making non-medical masks and face coverings mandatory in indoor spaces on Tuesday, Mayor John Tory says.

The recommendation is included in a report from Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, which will go to council later today. 

It comes one day after a call from mayors throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area for a mandatory mask policy across Ontario was rejected by Premier Doug Ford’s government.

You can watch Tory’s news conference in this story beginning at 9 a.m. ET.

Ford has repeatedly said that he believes such a policy would be impossible to enforce, and that his government trusts people to make responsible decisions when they leave their homes. The province has opted instead for a policy of strongly encouraging the public to wear non-medical masks and face coverings in busy indoor spaces. 

A spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Health, however, pointed out that local medical officers of health have the power to implement face mask policies in their respective health regions under existing legislation, namely Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

De Villa has previously expressed doubts about that authority when pressed on the matter by reporters at her bi-weekly COVID-19 briefings. It is expected she will be asked this morning about what has changed in recent days. The city has already opted for mandatory masks on public transit

Meanwhile, the city of Kingston, Ont., has already made mask use mandatory for workers and customers at many indoor public locations following an outbreak of COVID-19 at a local nail salon.

Ontario reported 257 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, with a majority of those in the Windsor-Essex public health unit, home to a high concentration of temporary agri-food workers who are housed in crowded conditions during the growing season.