Council could make masks mandatory for entering condos, apartment buildings

Ottawa city council is set to consider recommendations this week that would make masks mandatory inside any common areas of condominiums and residential buildings that contain multiple units.

Councillors will consider recommendations Wednesday

A condominium project on Queen Street near Metcalfe Street in downtown Ottawa. If councillors pass the new recommendations, building operators would also need to post signs at condo and apartment entrances warning people of the new requirements. (CBC)

An upcoming decision by Ottawa city council could make masks mandatory inside condominium and multi-unit apartment buildings until residents get inside their own homes.

Councillors will debate the recommendations put forward by city staff and health officials at its next meeting Wednesday.

The recommendations are part of a report submitted by Anthony Di Monte, the city's general manager of emergency and protective services, and Vera Etches, Ottawa's medical officer of health. The request recommends altering the current bylaw that mandates masks be used in any indoor public spaces.

If passed, people would be required to wear a mask in any the building's common areas, including entrances and elevators.

Building operators would also need to post signs at entrances, warning people of the new requirement, and ensure alcohol-based hand sanitizers are available for people to use.

Council passed its current bylaw mandating masks in indoor public spaces in early July. 

The bylaw didn't mandate mandatory masks for residential buildings or condominiums, "as they are not considered public spaces accessible by the general public," according to Ottawa Public Health's website.

OPH recommendations not heeded

Still, public health officials encouraged building operators to adopt their own policies to make masks mandatory in places like entrances, lobbies, elevators, and gyms.

"Ottawa Public Health and the city have been made aware by both residents and building operators that the policy recommendation approach to masks has not been widely adopted, putting residents of multi-unit buildings at risk, particularly those who are among the most vulnerable of the city's population," the report states.

Councillors will also consider whether to grant Anthony Di Monte the ability to identify outdoor, high-risk areas and, if necessary, require masks be worn "on specific days of the week during specific hours."

These orders would target areas where large groups gather outside and maintaining physical distancing isn't possible. 

Di Monte would need written confirmation from Etches that such an order is needed.

"Staff does not anticipate that such orders would be imposed frequently or for extended periods of time," the report reads.

If approved, the amendments will also extend the city's mandatory mask bylaw until Nov. 1. Without council's approval, the current bylaw expires midnight Thursday. 

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