Toronto is officially extending all COVID-19 bylaws until June
Between vaccine shortages, massive workplace outbreaks, the arrival of deadly new viral variants and a reluctance among some citizens to follow social gathering restrictions, there doesn't appear to be an end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That's not saying the situation can't improve rapidly, or that we'll be in lockdown for much longer, but Toronto City Council seems to have reason enough to believe that our COVID-specific bylaws should remain in place until at least this summer.
Councillors voted unanimously on Wednesday afternoon to formally extend the city's mandatory mask bylaw, physical distancing in parks and squares bylaw, and bylaw requiring masks to be worn in the common areas of residential buildings, as well as enhanced measures for establishments serving food and drink (if and when they can reopen.)
All of these bylaws were set to expire as soon as the ongoing multi-day City Council meeting ends, but will instead now be in effect "until 12:01 a.m. on the first day after the City Council meeting currently scheduled for June 8 and 9, 2021."
Tory’s motion extending the COVID bylaws until June CARRIES via a show of hands. As does Mantas’ ethnic media motion. Same for Thompson’s motion requesting the prov to look at extended sick leave, beyond 10 days.— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) February 3, 2021
What this all means is that we can buckle in for at least four more months of mandatory masks and staying six feet away from eachother in public spaces, among other safety precautions, if nothing drastic changes.
"We are committed to doing everything we can as a City government to fight COVID-19 and help save lives during the pandemic," said Mayor John Tory in a statement released following the vote.
"These bylaws were put in place based on public health advice to help stop the spread of the virus. Toronto Public Health has made it clear these bylaws should be extended to encourage people to continue to follow public health measures that will help keep them safe over the coming months."
Tory, who put forth the motion to extend the bylaws, had been advocating for the move based on the advice of Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa.
.@TOPublicHealth is recommending the extension of @CityofToronto #COVID19 temporary bylaws - including the mandatory mask bylaw until City Council's June meeting.— John Tory (@JohnTory) January 28, 2021
🔗 You can read the report here: https://t.co/RWJ0tXlqE2 pic.twitter.com/QzTje35uGg
"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 Tory last week when announcing his motion to extend the rules.
"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. Thank you to everyone who continues to follow the public health advice. This is the right thing to do."
As specified in the motion, Dr. de Villa will review the necessity of each specific bylaw on a monthly basis, and "report if any changes or extensions are required before" the June 9 expiry date.
"This assessment will be informed by Toronto Public Health's COVID-19 Monitoring Dashboard that tracks the spread and impacts of COVID-19 in the community," wrote de Villa in a report recommending the extension.
"Based on this assessment, the Medical Officer of Health may report to City Council to recommend ending, extending or amending the bylaws before the expiry date."
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