Toronto

Toronto mandates wearing masks in apartment and condo building common areas

Toronto Mayor John Tory has announced people will be required to wear masks in common areas of apartment buildings ahead of the city moving into Stage 3 of the province's re-opening plan this Friday.

City moving to Stage 3 of province's reopening plan on July 31

Mayor John Tory announced Wednesday that face coverings are now mandatory inside apartment and condo building common areas in Toronto. (CBC)

Toronto Mayor John Tory has announced people will be required to wear masks in common areas of apartment buildings as the city moves into Stage 3 of the province's re-opening plan this Friday.

"After the actions of city council this morning, in the common areas of apartment and condo buildings people are asked [and] in fact required to wear a mask," Tory said. "This is just out of consideration for the people that you are coming and going and seeing in all of these places including now in common areas of apartments and condo buildings."

Toronto city council voted in favour of a temporary bylaw, recommended by the medical officer of health and city solicitor on Wednesday, that will require building owners or operators to have a mandatory masking policy in place for enclosed common spaces like lobbies, elevators and laundry rooms. 

People who can't wear a mask or face covering for medical reasons and children under two years old are exempted.

The bylaw comes into effect on next Wednesday, Aug. 5.

Tory's remarks came at a press conference after Premier Doug Ford announced that Toronto has been given permission to move to Stage 3 of the province's reopening plan this Friday.

This means people will be able to do things like dine-in at restaurants (as long as they remain seated the whole time), and get facial services, like eyebrow waxing and eyelash extensions.

"We are moving into Stage 3 because we have made progress stopping the spread of COVID-19 and that is thanks to the businesses ... that are re-opening," said Tory. "I cannot stress enough that COVID-19 is still here. COVID-19 does not take a summer vacation." 

WATCH: Toronto Mayor John Tory talks about the city reopening further:

Toronto can move to Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan this Friday, which means people can dine-in at restaurants and playgrounds will be allowed to reopen. 2:30

Dr. Eileen de Villa said Toronto has a total of 13 confirmed new cases at a news conference Wednesday. There are also six new probable cases in the city, she said.

In the morning's provincial COVID-19 update, Toronto was listed as "-13." A spokesperson from Toronto Public Health said the difference was "due to the time the data [was] extracted" from the systems. 

De Villa said 13,785 people have also recovered, which is an increase of 39 people since Tuesday. 

As of July 29, Toronto Public Health said the current case count is 15,344. Twenty three cases have been removed because they were previously reported. 

'We most certainly do not want to go backwards'

Playgrounds and play structures will also reopen come Friday. New signs with updated public health advice will be posted in the coming days. 

Bringing wipes and hand sanitizer to parks and using soap and water to wash your hands as soon as possible is also encouraged, said de Villa. 

She also emphasized that people should stay home if they aren't feeling well.

As things open back up again, Tory implored people to continue following the rules, like wearing masks indoors and following gathering limits, to help avoid a second wave of the virus.

"We most certainly do not want to go backwards," he said. "Let's do it carefully for the sake of people, for the sake of customers and for the sake of employees."

WATCH: Toronto Mayor John Tory speaks about the city's new bylaw on masks in condos:

Toronto City Council voted in favour of a temporary bylaw that will require building owners or operators to have a mandatory masking policy in place for enclosed common spaces like lobbies, elevators and laundry rooms. 0:21

If the changes, like increasing gathering limits and opening indoor dining, increase the number of new cases, Tory said he would have "no hesitation in communicating with the premier" to talk about walking things back.

Interaction means more risk of COVID-19

Gathering limits in Stage 3 are set at 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors — and social distancing still applies.

Tory noted that when mass gatherings have occurred in the GTA in recent weeks, they have tended to be "bizarre" events with things like valet parking and deliberate planning. 

"These are the kind of things we can't have," he said. "We have to have common sense when it comes to showing up, finding a beach is crowded, and frankly turning around and saying you're going to go somewhere else."

People will be able to dine indoors as Toronto moves to Stage 3 of the province's reopening plans. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

As people start to interact with each other more, De Villa said there would be a risk of more COVID-19 cases. 

"We are, of course, expecting or anticipating that there may be increased activity in a wave two-type scenario, and what that looks like nobody can really predict in advance," she said. "However, much can be done, much has been done already, and much can continue to be done in respect of preventing that type of increase from happening or at least minimizing it as much as possible"

Though hoping for the best, de Villa said, the city needs to prepare for worse case scenario, and added that the spread of the virus rests in everyone's hands until there are effective treatments or a vaccine. 

When it comes to enforcing the rules on dining, Tory said people will have to count on businesses and patrons.

He said taking into account the "punishment" that businesses, employees, and those just wanting to go to their favourite places have been through in recent months, he thinks there will be "widespread compliance."

Tory also clarified that it isn't within city council's jurisdiction to change bar hours and enforce an earlier closing time. Only the province could do that, he said.

Mayor John Tory said he thinks there will be 'widespread compliance' among businesses and their customers when it comes to following the rules. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

With Files from Christine Rankin

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