Toronto's COVID bylaws should be extended into June, top health official says
A man wearing a mask walks past a mural made by artist Emily May Rose during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Friday, May 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Published Thursday, January 28, 2021 12:24PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 28, 2021 12:30PM EST
City bylaws that mandate the wearing of masks in indoor public spaces and require that residents keep two metres apart while out and about are likely to be extended into at least June.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa is recommending that city council extend all five bylaws that have been adopted amid the COVID-19 pandemic until their June meeting, though she says that she will nonetheless continue to “conduct a monthly assessment” on the need to keep each bylaw in place.
The bylaws were previously scheduled to expire at the conclusion of next week’s city council meeting after last being extended in September.
"We took action, based on public health advice, to implement the mandatory mask bylaw and others last year to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our city. Once again, our public health officials have made it clear these measures need to be extended in order to keep up our fight against the virus,” Mayor John Tory said in a news release issued following the publication of de Villa’s latest recommendations. “Thank you to everyone who continues to follow the public health advice. This is the right thing to do. Your actions, wearing a mask, keeping your distance from others, avoiding gatherings with people outside your household, and washing your hands, will help keep you healthy, protect your family and loved ones, and help save lives."
Daily case counts in Toronto have been on the decline for weeks and the city’s reproductive number recently dipped below one to 0.86, meaning that transmission is on the wane.
De Villa, however, pointed out in a report that will be considered by council next week that “COVID-19 continues to spread in Toronto” and that the bylaws are still a “necessary response to the ongoing pandemic.”
“SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, is present and circulating to a significant extent in Toronto and therefore poses a risk to the health of the residents of the city,” the report notes.
The bylaws that will be considered by council next week also cover additional infection control measures at currently shuttered bars and restaurants and in the common areas of apartment and condominium buildings.