Here are the rules for wearing face masks inside condo buildings in Toronto
Despite the fact that Toronto was among the first municipalities in Ontario to make face masks mandatory in indoor public spaces back in the summer, some people still have questions about the rules — including what the fine is for those who refuse to wear one in some settings.
Of particular concern are the regulations for donning the garment on private property, such as in a retail store or communal area of a condo building, where it is actually the responsibility of the owner or operator to ensure that face covering policies are enforced and that appropriate signage noting the rules are posted on the premises.
Apparently, despite nearly 2,000 complaints about people not wearing masks in condo lobbies and elevators in Toronto, no charges have actually been laid.
@JohnTory if Toronto Public Health has been notified that a condo building isn’t enforcing the mask bylaw and nothing has changed, what next? Would love to know how to escalate...— Pam Stillman (@PamStillman) September 3, 2020
The City clarified back when it implemented masking policies — which at first did not include residential buildings — that there would not be strict enforcement of the bylaw, and that those who flouted it would not need to provide proof of exemption, nor would they face any fines.
It also stated when the rule was extended to the public areas of residential buildings that tenants would not be denied entry to their home if they didn't have a mask on hand.
But, when Premier Doug Ford moved to make masks mandatory in all indoor public places provincewide in early October, ignoring masking orders in some buildings suddenly meant not only violating a municipal bylaw, but provincial orders under the Reopening Ontario Act.
To help keep people safe in apartment buildings and condos, Council has approved a new temporary bylaw requiring masks or face coverings in common areas, like lobbies and elevators.— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) July 29, 2020
The act states that "the person responsible for a business or organization that is open" must be the one to ensure that all people on their property are wearing a mask, but also adds that each individual must "ensure that they wear a mask or face covering... during any period in which they are in an indoor area of the premises," putting the onus on both parties.
It is notable that condos and apartments aren't specifically referenced in the legislation — only businesses. So, there is actually no provision to charge individuals without face coverings in these settings.
Hello, Please call us or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the details to report. ^cd— 311 Toronto (@311Toronto) November 24, 2020
Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a press conference on Monday that in response to the influx of complaints of noncompliance in residential buildings, he's asked City staff to "drill down" on incidents to identify problem condos and follow up with building owners, who could be fined $1,000 under the Toronto bylaw.
"The [City] bylaw requires building owners or operators to have a policy to ensure face coverings are worn by individuals in the enclosed common spaces, such as lobbies, elevators and laundry rooms, and to post corresponding signage," Tory reiterated this afternoon.
"It is my hope that this review by City staff of where the complaints are coming from will ensure that this bylaw is continuing to be followed by building owners and individual residents, and I think the two have to go together here for this to be successful."
City staffer Carleton Grant says 1,950 complaints about mask use in condo and apt buildings since summer, are 3,500 of those buildings across Toronto; if there are "frequent flyers" (offenders) city staff will visit and figure out how to address problem.— David Rider (@dmrider) January 18, 2021
Some condo and apartment buildings began implementing their own masking protocols before the city's bylaw included them, and many have recently gone as far as prohibiting residents from having guests.
"Security staff are directed to investigate and take enforcement action against non-essential visitors (in violation of the stay-at-home order)," one building in West Queen West said in an email to residents last week. "Substantive violations will be reported to the relevent authorities."
As the City of Toronto notes under its section about mandatory use of masks or face coverings, charges for failing to comply with a provincial order — including mask-wearing in indoor businesses, but not condos — can range from a set fine of $750 to $100,000 and up to one year of jail time for an individual, $500,000 and a year of jail time for an individual who is an officer or director of a corporation and up to $10,000,000 for a corporation.
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