TORONTO — Toronto City Council has passed a roster of new bylaws meant to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 as Toronto prepares to move to Stage 3 of re-opening later this week.

Among the bylaws passed by council Wednesday is a temporary requirement that most people wear masks while inside lobbies, elevators, laundry rooms and other shared spaces in condo and apartment buildings.

The new bylaw requires building owners or operators to have a policy to ensure masks or face coverings are worn by individuals in enclosed common spaces. They must also post corresponding signage in the buildings.

At a news conference Wednesday, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said the new regulation is being implemented “to help us move forward as safely as possible.”

“These measures were recommended as part of the provincial Stage 3 order applied to our city, recognizing that Stage 3 comes with opportunity for more close contact between people, especially in indoor settings, and therefore, opportunities for COVID-19 to spread,” de Villa said.

The bylaw will come into effect in a week’s time on Aug. 5 and includes exemptions for those who are unable to wear a mask or face covering for medical reasons, children under two years of age, and other reasonable accommodations.

Last week, city officials said that such a move was merely a strong recommendation. However Mayor John Tory had said he was looking into the possibility of making it mandatory.

On Wednesday, council voted to do so.

masks in condos

On Wednesday, the city released guidance documents advising building owners and operators of how to go about implementing the bylaw.

Council also passed bylaws, at the recommendation of Toronto Public Health, requiring bars and restaurants to keep contact information for patrons so that the health unit can quickly contact anyone who was in the vicinity of a person found to have COVID-19. 

The bylaws impose capacity and table size limits to ensure physical distancing indoors, screening of staff at the start of every shift, and requiring that patrons remain seated at all times, except when going to or from the washroom or paying.

Speaking alongside de Villa, Mayor John Tory said that the city explored the idea of shortening hours for bars and restaurants, but was advised that they are not legally able to do so.

De Villa said that even as the city progresses in its reopening, it remains vital to take measures that will stop the spread of the virus.

“We will continue living with COVID-19 until an effective treatment, or vaccine is available,” she said. “Until then, there continues to be an ongoing risk of infection from this virus. For this reason, once again I ask that you please continue to wash your hands, watch your distance from others, wear your mask and please, continue to take care of each other.”

Toronto will move into Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan on July 31, provincial officials said Wednesday.