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City council to discuss extending physical distancing, masking bylaws

Last Updated Feb 2, 2021 at 10:47 am EDT

People in downtown toronto waiting for TTC bus wearing masks. (Undated)

City council is being asked to extend COVID-19 bylaws that are set to expire on Wednesday.

The bylaws include mandatory physical distancing among people from different households in public spaces and the requirement of masks in common areas of apartment buildings and condos.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa is recommending the extension of these temporary bylaws until at least June. She says the need for each bylaw and it is possible they could be lifted early or possibly extended if health officials deem it necessary.

“We took action, based on public health advice, to implement the mandatory mask bylaw and others last year to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our city.” said Mayor John Tory. “Once again, our public health officials have made it clear these measures need to be extended in order to keep up our fight against the virus.”

Last week, de Villa revealed that between August of 2020 and last week, the City’s 3-1-1 line received almost 2,000 calls about improper mask usage in shared residential spaces.

In an effort to further increase enforcement efforts, Tory says a dozen of ‘263’ locations that received complaints will get in-person visits.

Councilor Joe Cressy says the measures are as important as they’ve ever been and will help residents protect themselves and others.

“At this critical stage in our fight against COVID-19, we must use every tool we have to keep one another safe,” said Joe Cressy. “Right now, that includes extending the City of Toronto bylaws mandating mask usage and physical distancing requirements.”

Ontario released its latest round of provincial COVID-19 data last week with health experts reporting cases and positivity rates are down across Public Health Units (PHUs), testing volumes are also low, and while the province says positive rates are declining across long-term care homes, deaths are on the rise.

Of importance, provincial health experts say the mobility rate has also greatly diminished since the stay-at-home order was enforced in mid-January but are concerned about new variants of the virus, such as (B.1.1.7), which continues to spread in Ontario potentially threatening pandemic control.

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