London

City council meets Monday with medical officer of health for mandatory mask advice

Just days before London, along with most of the province, opens up further than it has in the past four months, city politicians and the region's top doctor still haven't made a final decision about whether to make face masks mandatory in all indoor public places.

Dr. Chris Mackie is being asked to come before council and give his advice on masking

London's city council is going to get advice from the medical officer of health about mandating mask wearing indoors. (Stephanie vanKampen)

Just days before London, along with most of the province, opens up further than it has in the past four months, city politicians and the region's top doctor still haven't made a final decision about whether to make face masks mandatory in all indoor public places. 

Ontario enters Phase 3 of the COVID-19 reopening this Friday. The Middlesex-London Health Unit has made masks mandatory on public transit and in taxis and Ubers, as well as in places such as hair salons and tattoo parlours as of July 20. 

But some cities have gone further, requiring masks in all enclosed public spaces, such as malls or grocery stores. 

While the health unit here has stopped short of making such an order, city councillors could do so and are seeking the advice of Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie. They plan to meet Monday for a special committee meeting. 

"We want to hear from Dr. Mackie whether we should have a bylaw that's requiring the mask wearing indoors, which we are seeing many other municipalities doing, including Toronto and other places in the GTA and Kitchener-Waterloo," Deputy Mayor Jesse Helmer told CBC News. 

"There's a specific authority for the medical officers of health to issue those orders, and other municipalities have passed bylaws on the recommendation of the medical officers of health. There are two ways of responding to the need to have masks worn indoors." 

Virtually all businesses will be open as of Friday and the number of people who can get together will increase significantly as well.

London's medical officer of health Dr. Chris Mackie joins London Morning with clear advice for Londoners about wearing masks in public. 12:05

"What that means is that contacts between people will be increasing and there will be more activity, and if we can do that in a safe way, that would be good," Helmer said.

Although Mackie has said that a public health order making face masks mandatory in all indoor places is not a good idea, Helmer said the medical officer of health may have a different opinion about passing a face-mask bylaw. 

Some politicians seemed frustrated last night that they would have to make such a request of the medical officer of health. 

Mackie has come under fire in recent days for asking on Twitter for people's opinions about face masks, and for questioning their effectiveness to curb the spread of COVID-19 in a place like London, where there are few cases. 

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