City council passes indoor mandatory mask bylaw for London

London city councillors voted 12-1 Tuesday night to implement a bylaw requiring masks to be worn inside most public buildings. 

The bylaw takes effect immediately, requiring masks to be work in indoor public spaces

Coun. Phil Squire wears a mask at City Hall while councillors debate the incoming indoor mandatory mask bylaw. (City of London/YouTube)

It's official. 

Londoners are now required to wear masks inside most public buildings or risk a hefty fine. 

At a meeting of full council Tuesday, councillors voted 12-1 to pass the mandatory masking bylaw. The move is another way to limit the spread of COVID-19.

There was one amendment to the bylaw. Ward 6 Coun. Phil Squire pressed council to allow masks to be removed briefly during religious services.

"I want to encourage council to support this and I know the diocese has worked very hard to make sure that the church itself is in very good condition in terms of being safe, it a very small part of the service, but it's probably the most important part of the service for Catholics where they take communion, so it's very much appreciated."

Ward 1 Coun. Michael Van Holst cast the lone vote against the bylaw, saying the bylaw goes against personal freedoms.

"There's many people who oppose the bylaw for many reasons, and I intend to give them a voice," he said. "I don't share the sense of urgency ... by acting quickly, as we have, I think we may have unintentionally moved towards the totalitarian views of the World Health Organization."

Van Holst went on to quote the Canadian National Anthem, saying "'God, keep our land, glorious and free,' I think as a result of this, we may be a little bit less free, a little bit less glorious."

The bylaw takes effect immediately but can be revoked if the province steps back its reopening plans.

A $500 fine can be issued for not wearing a mask indoors, although city staff say they will focus on education as enforcement.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit reported one new case of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the regional total to 647 cases. Fifty-seven people have died from the disease in the London area, the last fatality was reported on June 12.