Toronto is officially extending all COVID-19 bylaws until April of 2022
In what some worry might be a harbinger of further restrictions to come, the City of Toronto has once again extended its COVID-19 temporary bylaws until at least April of next year.
At present, these laws include a mandatory mask bylaw requiring facial coverings to be worn in all public indoor spaces, as well as building code amendments that require enhanced sanitization protocols and mandate mask use in the common areas of residential buildings.
"We introduced the mandatory mask bylaw based on the recommendation of Toronto Public Health to help combat COVID-19," said Toronto Mayor John Tory in a release issued Wednesday afternoon.
"Now as we confront the Omicron variant, we know from public health officials that making sure we are wearing our masks when around others indoors is even more important."
With new daily cases of COVID-19 rising fast and the highly-contagious Omicron set to overtake Delta as Ontario's dominant variant, Toronto's acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Na-Koshie Lamptey, recommended the bylaw extension "to control the spread of COVID-19 and to continue to protect the health and safety of our communities."
"Given the current epidemiological trends, this report recommends extending the City of Toronto COVID-19 temporary bylaws... until the end of City Council's April 2022 meeting," reads a report from Lamptey to City Council dated December 14.
"The extension of these temporary bylaws is necessary to control the spread of COVID-19, as they are set to expire at the end of the February 2 and 3, 2022 City Council meeting."
The City's newly-extended mask bylaws require everyone to wear masks in all indoor public settings, such as businesses and in common areas in multi-residential buildings including apartments and condominiums.
The amendments to Chapter 354 Apartment Buildings also require apartment buildings to provide hand hygiene stations or hand sanitizer in common areas, close non-essential common areas, increase cleaning and post Toronto Public Health COVID-19 signage.
"Since day one, we have followed the science and the experts in our response to COVID-19. We did that when the City of Toronto became the first municipality in the country to mandate masks indoors in the spring of 2020," said Councillor Joe Cressy, chair of Toronto's Board of Health, when announcing the extensions on Wednesday.
"This pandemic will end. Vaccinations will help us accomplish that. In the meantime, we will continue to do everything in our power to keep Torontonians safe."
Ontario's Ministry of Health reported 1,808 new cases of COVID-19 this morning, marking the highest number of new cases in one day since May, 2021.
Premier Doug Ford is expected to make an announcement later Wednesday afternoon regarding booster vaccines and potentially additional public health measures for the fast-approaching Christmas holidays.
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