Niagara Region council voted Thursday night to make mask use mandatory while using indoor public spaces.
Starting at the end of July, the temporary bylaw will require that masks be used in indoor public spaces, businesses, and on public transit in all Niagara Region communities.
People exempt from the bylaw include those with medical conditions that prohibit the wearing of a mask and children under age 5.
The bylaw requires a face covering. Face shields are not an adequate substitute, under the new rules.
The motion, introduced by Thorold Regional Councillor Tim Whalen, was carried.
West Niagara regional representatives did not all vote in favour of the new rules. West Lincoln Mayor Dave Bylsma voted against the motion. The other dissenter was Niagara-On-The-Lake Councilor Gary Zalepa, who wanted to abstain, but whose vote was counted as no.
Bylsma previously said there was no need for the bylaw. After voting against it, he had no further comment.
Lincoln Mayor Sandra Easton and Grimsby Mayor Jim Jordan voted for the motion, as did Pelham Mayor Marvin Junkin, Regional Councillor Wayne Fertich (Grimsby) and Regional Councillor Robert Foster (Lincoln).
The new bylaw was passed on the eve of Niagara Region’s entry into Stage 3 of Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening plan today (Friday July 23).
Things to know about the new Niagara Region mask bylaw
- All visitors to and residents in the region must wear a mask, considered a paper or cloth face covering that covers the nose and mouth in the locations below.
- Masks must be worn in indoor public spaces, in businesses, and on public transit and all buses. Public spaces include retail stores, places of worship, lobby areas of commercial buildings, common areas of hotels and motels, cinemas, real estate open houses and presentation centres, event spaces, businesses that provide personal services, and municipal and government buildings.
- Masks must be worn by all adults and children age 5 and older.
- Exceptions include children ages 4 or under and those that have a valid medical why they cannot wear a mask.
- Masks do not have to be worn by people who are eating or drinking in an establishment that sells food and drink.
- People playing sports are exempt.
- Workers in a non-public space in a business or behind a protective screen do no need to wear a mask.
- The bylaw is temporary for 90 days starting at the end of July and expiring Oct. 31.
- The law can be enforced by police officers, public health inspectors, and provincial offenses officers.
See the full bylaw text