St. Catharines, Burlington make wearing masks indoors mandatory

Both cities voted in approval of making mask-wearing in public, indoor spaces mandatory.

Both cities voted in approval of making mask-wearing in public, indoor spaces mandatory

St. Catharines and Burlington have both voted in approval of mandating masks in public, closed spaces. (Narongpon Chaibot/Shutterstock)

People in St. Catharines and Burlington will have to wear a mask while shopping and visiting indoor public spaces as both city councils voted ahead of their regions to make face coverings mandatory.

On Monday night, St. Catharines became the first Niagara municipality to approve a bylaw requiring masks or face coverings in public enclosed spaces.

This means you'll have to wear a mask in places like restaurants, shopping malls, churches, libraries, and elevators.

The rule doesn't apply to children under the age of 10 and those who can't wear a mask for medical reasons. It also doesn't apply in spaces such as child care facilities, day camps, or on St. Catharines Transit.  

There is no start date yet, but one will be discussed with Niagara's acting medical officer of health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji. 

Niagara Region has discussed mandatory masks at a meeting before, but came to no decision. Council will talk about it again on July 23. 

In Monday's meeting, Hirji said that passing the rule at the local level (instead of the regional one) means it can be regulated easier across individual businesses. If the region was to step into that area, he said, it could leave an opening for different appeals. 

Burlington approves ahead of Halton vote

Burlington also voted in approval ahead of its region last night. The bylaw will be in effect from July 20 to Sept. 30, unless council extends or revokes it. 

The city says the rules are generally consistent with other mask bylaws where people are only allowed to enter businesses and stay on the premises if they are wearing a mask. 

It doesn't apply to those who can't wear a mask for medical reasons and children under three, and can be temporarily removed during a meal or while working out. It also doesn't apply to apartment buildings and condos, child care facilities, and places that aren't enclosed like restaurant patios.  

Wearing a mask is already mandatory at Burlington Transit bus stops, terminals and on the buses. 

Halton will consider a region-wide bylaw on July 15. In a media release, Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said that while Halton will consider it this week, Burlington couldn't wait. 

"Passing our own helps us ensure the bylaw meets the needs of our local community," she said. 

Oakville and Milton have expressed their support of it being region-wide. Halton Hills has already mandated wearing masks; its rule goes into effect later this week. If the region-wide bylaw does not pass on Wednesday, Oakville has said it will vote on its own bylaw the next day. 

In a media release, the region says that its medical officer of health Dr. Hamidah Meghani is supportive of municipalities implementing their own bylaws as an extra layer of protection to control the spread of COVID-19.