City's mandatory mask bylaw calls for fines up to $400
Bylaw officers 'won't be out patrolling,' emergency and protective services GM says
- City council passed the temporary bylaw at its July 15 meeting.
- Coun. Shawn Menard tried to lower the minimum fine to $40, but was voted down 14-8.
Ottawa bylaw officers could soon be given the power to issue fines of up to $400 to people who aren't wearing masks in indoor public spaces, but the city says it has no plans to launch a crackdown.
City officials offered more details Friday about a proposed bylaw to make masks mandatory in an effort to limit the community spread of COVID-19.
"We won't be patrolling ... for people that aren't wearing masks to give fines. That's not our approach," said Anthony Di Monte, the city's general manager of emergency and protective services, during a news conference.
The bylaw will have a fine component to it, but frankly I hope we never have to use that. - Coun. Keith Egli
Rather, the fine of $200 to $400 would only be levied against those who repeatedly refuse to wear masks despite warnings and education, he said. That's much less than the default fine of $880 under Ontario's emergency legislation, Di Monte noted.
Mayor Jim Watson first signalled a week ago that the temporary bylaw would go before council for approval on July 15.
It lines up with, and builds on, a directive by Ottawa's medical officer of health that took effect Tuesday.
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Dr. Vera Etches had already laid out the places where people would need to cover their nose, mouth and chin, such as stores, museums and hotel lobbies. OC Transpo has also been requiring masks on buses and trains for the past month.
Compliance 'really encouraging'
Etches said she's noticed Ottawa Public Health signs taped to storefronts alerting customers that masks are required inside, and said more and more residents appear to be complying.
"This is really encouraging, and I thank everyone for doing their part to keep COVID-19 low in our community," Etches said.
Etches and her counterparts in neighbouring public health units said the focus is on educating people and making mask-wearing the norm to prevent a possible second wave of COVID-19 in the fall, and to help kids get back to school.
Coun. Keith Egli, chair of Ottawa's board of health, said that's the city's approach with this bylaw, too.
"The bylaw will have a fine component to it, but frankly I hope we never have to use that," Egli said. "What we've seen in the last couple of days with our businesses and with the customers is heartening, and shows we're on the right track."