Kitchener-Waterloo

Region of Waterloo to consider extending mask-wearing bylaw for 8 months

Region of Waterloo is set to discuss whether its mask-wearing bylaw should be extended until next spring.

If approved, the extension will run to May 31, 2021

Region of Waterloo is expected to discuss extending its face covering bylaw next Tuesday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Regional council may extend the current mandatory mask bylaw through the spring of 2021. 

The bylaw requires masks inside most indoor public spaces, including public transit vehicles, and is currently set to expire on September 30.

But a report going before the region's committee of the whole recommends extending the bylaw until May 31, 2021. It also recommends requiring masks in some additional public spaces, such as taxi-cabs and the common areas of multi-residential buildings. 

Regional Chair Karen Redman says that masks have made a difference in preventing further spread of COVID-19 in the region.

"There's been a huge level of compliance in Waterloo region," Redman told CBC News.

"[It's] really gratifying to see people put the public good ahead of their personal desires."

Masks recommended by public health officials

In a statement Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's acting medical officer of health, said she continues to support the region's mask bylaws.

"The bylaws further support my strong recommendation that people wear masks when physical distancing can be a challenge, especially in such settings," she wrote in a statement. 

Wang added that COVID-19 can still be active in the community during the flu season in the fall and winter. She reminded people to continue following public health guidelines in addition to wearing a mask. 

"Please continue to practice physical distancing and hand hygiene, and self isolate and get tested if symptoms develop," she wrote.

"Together with face coverings, or masks, these measures will continue to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community."

'Lots of support for masks' 

Redman says council will look to public health officials for guidance on mask-wearing.

She adds that while the majority of people support wearing masks, there are still those who oppose the bylaw. 

However, she says council has found that mask-wearing "is a good thing to do" to protect the community.

"I imagine there will still be very entrenched views on both sides of the issue, but I think council has come generally speaking, to the conclusion that this is a good thing to do and is in the public interest." 

With files from Kate Bueckert

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