Montreal mayor says masks will soon be mandatory in enclosed public spaces
'We must do everything to protect ourselves,' Valérie Plante says
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says her administration is drafting a bylaw that would make it mandatory to wear a face covering in enclosed public places.
"We must do everything to protect ourselves," she said in a statement published to social media on Monday.
Plante said the city is intending on having the bylaw in place by July 27, but there will be a grace period before it's enforced. It will apply to indoor spaces such as shops, sports facilities, libraries, bars and restaurants.
"Over the past few days, we have witnessed the emergence of some outbreaks in the suburbs of Montreal, which could undermine the efforts we have been making since the beginning of this pandemic," Plante said.
She said merchants have told her it is challenging to enforce hygiene and distancing rules in their establishments.
A resurgence of COVID-19 cases could again lead to the widespread closures seen at the end of March, which would "be a disaster for human lives and for our economy," she said.
Plante said the city will draw on the experiences of Canadian cities that have already adopted such a bylaw, or are about to do so.
Watch: Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante explains how the mask bylaw will work:
Mask regulations increasingly common
Several U.S. states have established similar laws and some communities across Canada have started making masks mandatory on public transit — or even in businesses or indoor spaces — to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Wearing a face covering on public transit in Quebec will soon be mandatory. The province's new regulation goes into effect on July 13.
Côte Saint-Luc, a Montreal suburb that had hundreds of confirmed COVID-19 cases and dozens of deaths by the beginning of June, made masks mandatory in indoor public spaces starting July 1.
Residents of eastern Ontario, including the City of Ottawa, will be required to wear non-medical masks in indoor public places starting at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
A group of 27 epidemiologists and other health professionals called on Quebec last month to make wearing masks mandatory across the province.
At that time, epidemiologist Nima Machouf said masks and other face coverings are a "low-cost, risk-free" way to limit the spread of COVID-19 and curb a potential second wave this fall.
Montreal officials have been strongly encouraging the wearing of face coverings for months, but until now the city had stopped short of making them mandatory.
Plante said that enforcement would be done by the Montreal police, in the form of fines for individuals and businesses that do not comply.
'Right decision at the wrong time,' opposition says
Lionel Perez, leader of opposition party Ensemble Montréal, says this measure should have been enacted as soon as the economy began reopening. He is concerned that COVID-19 cases are again on the rise because people weren't wearing masks soon enough.
"Right decision at the wrong time, but it's better late than never," said Perez.
He said the Plante administration rejected a motion from his party in May to make masks mandatory.
"We just hope the consequences of their being late won't be manifested in Montrealers catching COVID," Perez said.