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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

These are the rules for face masks in Toronto for businesses during Stage 3

Toronto is officially advancing into Stage 3 of the provincial government's economic recovery plan this Friday, paving the way for gyms, bars and the indoor dining areas of restaurants to reopen after more than four months of mandatory closure orders.

Excited as we all may be, however, things are more complicated now than they were before the pandemic: You can't simply walk into a movie theatre, bowling alley or brow bar (all of which can now resume operations under Stage 3) as if it were olden times.

If you live in Toronto, you're going to need a face mask.

While Ontario doesn't explicitly mandate the use of facial coverings, the City of Toronto has its own bylaw in place requiring masks to be worn "in indoor public spaces."

This has been the rule since July 7 and, for the most part, locals have been happy to comply.

With Stage 3 on the horizon for Canada's largest city, how do the rules surrounding face masks change?

Well, they don't. Not by much. There are some specific rules to note, however, regarding the use of face masks during Stage 3 that apply to Toronto specifically.

City council voted today, shortly after the province announced that Toronto would soon advance past Stage 2, to introduce a temporary bylaw requiring the use of masks in all common areas of condo and apartment buildings, including lobbies, elevators, laundry rooms and more.

The city also voted in favour of implementing additional health and safety measures once Toronto moves into Stage 3, given the city's unique challenges (read: size and density.)

Based on public health recommendations, these Toronto-specific rules include requiring restaurant patrons to remain seated at all times (unless going to the washroom or paying), limiting the number of people in any bar or restaurant at once and capping table capacities at 10 people.

Business owners will also be required to keep logs containing the personal information of all customers and visitors for contract tracing purposes.

With these amendments to Chapter 545, Licensing, of the City of Toronto Municipal Code included, as well as individual mask policies from companies like Uber and the TTC, here are all the places in Toronto where a face mask must be worn (unless you're legitimately exempted) during Stage 3:

  • retail stores
  • convenience stores
  • malls and shopping plazas
  • enclosed areas of grocery stores, bakeries and farmer's markets
  • the indoor areas of restaurants and bars
  • inside adult entertainment clubs, billiard halls or other entertainment establishments
  • indoor recreational facilities, gyms and swimming pools when permitted to open
  • libraries
  • community centres
  • community service agencies
  • personal service settings
  • churches, mosque, synagogue, temples and faith settings
  • art galleries, museums, aquariums and zoos
  • banquet halls, convention centres, arenas, stadiums and other event spaces
  • real estate facilities such as open houses and presentation centres
  • common areas in hotels, motels and short-term rentals
  • entertainment facilities including concert venues, theatres, cinemas and casinos
  • business offices open to the public
  • common areas in hotels, motels and short-term rentals
  • common areas of residential condo and apartment buildings
  • inside most ride-share vehicles
  • on all TTC vehicles and in stations

Toronto's Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw includes exemptions for those who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, children under the age of two, and other reasonable accommodations.

The bylaw also still allows for the temporary removal of a mask when receiving certain services, having a meal, or engaging in a fitness activity.

Regardless of what kind of setting you're in, Ontario's provincial government recommends wearing a mask or face covering to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 when physical distancing "may be challenging or not possible."

by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO

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