Ontario won’t be making it mandatory for people to wear masks in indoor establishments but will continue to “highly, highly recommend it,” Premier Doug Ford says.

A number of retailers have already made it mandatory for customers to wear masks when in their stores and on Monday Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti released a statement asking retailers and personal service shops in his community to implement a “no mask, no service policy,” noting that it is “not the time to let our guard down.”

Asked about the idea during his daily briefing at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, Ford said that he continues to believe that it is “critical” for people to wear masks as much as possible but he said that there are no plans to force retailers to require masks at this time.

Ford, however, did say that he planned to speak with Scarpitti this afternoon regarding his comments.

“I highly, highly recommend if you go outside and if you are in large groups or in a shopping centre wear a mask. I think it is critical that you do that. But to police 14.5 million people would be very difficult,” he said. “We just don’t have the manpower for bylaw and police officers to be chasing people without masks.”

Ford’s comments on face masks come as his government releases a new guide to help businesses craft individual safety plans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guide is in addition to 133 sector-specific guidelines that the Ministry of Labour has already released and is geared towards helping business develop their own tailored safety plans.

Speaking with reporters, Ford said that while he believes that requiring customers to wear face masks as part of a safety policy is a good idea, that decision should ultimately be up to retailers.

“We want to work with the retailers. We don’t want to force anyone to do anything,” he told reporters.

A number of public transit agencies, including the TTC, have previously said that they will make it mandatory for their riders to wear face masks.

Some businesses, including the independent grocer Fiesta Farms, have also implemented mandatory mask policies.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that physical distancing “is still the most important rule to follow and that we should continue to do that for the foreseeable future.” She said that masks “should be worn when that is not going to be possible.”

“A number of retailers have decided that they want masks to be worn and it is the retailer’s right to do that,” she said.