Ottawa city council extends mandatory mask bylaw until 2021

OTTAWA — Ottawa City Council has voted to extend the city’s temporary mandatory mask bylaw until at least the new year.

The Temporary Mandatory Mask Bylaw was set to expire on Oct. 31, but council unanimously agreed to extend it on Wednesday. The mask bylaw will now be in effect until 12:01 a.m. the day after the first scheduled city council meeting in January 2021, unless council votes to extend it again.

A motion prepared for council on extending the bylaw notes that, “Ottawa continues to report cases of COVID-19 and the provincial government has identified Ottawa as one of the areas of Ontario needing greater restrictions for re-opening due to COVID-19 cases.”

The bylaw requires that people wear masks in all indoor public places, as well as common areas of apartment buildings and condo buildings. Masks are also mandatory on public transit. Exemptions are in place for individuals with medical issues that make mask wearing difficult and for children under two.

Since Sept. 1, Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services has issued 64 charges under the Temporary Mandatory Mask Bylaw, 43 of them to people not wearing masks. The remaining charges have gone to businesses for other violations such as improper signage or failing to provide hand sanitizer at entrances.

The fine for not wearing a mask is $240, including the victim surcharge. The fine for business owners and property operators failing to post the required signage and/or failing to provide hand sanitizer at all entrances is $490, including the victim surcharge.

The bylaw has been extended twice since it was first invoked in July. Mayor Jim Watson says he expects it may be extended again in the new year.

“We chose to be more proactive and set a date. I suspect we’ll probably have to extend that beyond the first meeting in January, given the state of COVID now,” he said.

City Solicitor David White told council the sunset clause, which ends the bylaw if council does not extend it, is in place to reinforce the fact that the bylaw is meant to be a temporary measure.

With files from CTV’s Josh Pringle.

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