Starting July 7, 2020, the City of Toronto will require businesses to ensure masks or face coverings are worn by the public in their enclosed public spaces.

Key Takeaways
  • The City of Toronto’s bylaw will come into force on July 7, 2020. It is currently set to expire on or about October 1, 2020, but may be extended.
  • The new bylaw will generally apply to all indoor spaces within the City of Toronto that are openly accessible to the public. The bylaw will not require individuals to wear masks or face coverings in workplaces that are not openly accessible to the public will not be required.
  • A list of public spaces exempted from the bylaw can be found here: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-what-you-should-do/covid-19-orders-directives-by-laws/mandatory-mask-or-face-covering-bylaw/
  • Under the bylaw, there are exceptions for individuals who are unable to wear a mask or face covering for medical reasons, and for children under two years old. There are further exceptions for individuals who are, for example, eating a meal or engaging in athletic or fitness activity.

Employer Considerations

To comply with this new bylaw, and with employer obligations under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers should frequently review Provincial and City health guidelines to ensure they are following the latest safety requirements. Updated information will likely be made available here.

According to City guidance, applicable employers must:

  • Create a mask policy for the establishment;
  • Communicate this new policy to staff and customers;
  • Train your staff on the policy, including when staff and customers must wear a mask or face covering, what to do if a customer refuses to wear one, and who is exempt from wearing one; and
  • Post signs at all entrances reminding everyone to wear a mask.

Face masks and coverings do not replace the need to keep a distance of two metres or six feet from others, wash hands often, and stay home when sick. Employees should continue to work from home if possible.

Many other municipalities in Ontario are implementing similar bylaws, including Windsor and London, Ontario. In response to this growing trend, we recommend that employers review their existing protocols and consider whether it is necessary or advisable to make masks or face coverings mandatory for employees in the course of their employment.