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Statement from the GTHA Mayors and Chairs commit to regional action on face coverings to combat COVID-19

"Today, the GTHA Mayors and Chairs met to discuss the ongoing response to COVID-19 and the need to take further action to protect residents.

With the entire GTHA now in Stage 2 of the provincial reopening process, the Mayors and Chairs are committed to supporting the economic restart and ensuring we continue to do everything possible to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

Public health officials have been clear that keeping your distance, at least six feet or two metres, from others is the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. Those same officials have also been clear that when people can't keep their distance, they should wear a fabric mask or face covering. Every person wearing a face covering properly is protecting those around them from the risk of virus spread.

The Mayors and Chairs unanimously agreed to request the Government of Ontario to implement a mandatory face covering measure for large municipalities. Any such order should apply to indoor public settings and would include appropriate exceptions for age and health.

“We strongly encourage everyone to wear a mask wherever physical distancing is not possible and, along with our Medical Officer of Health, continue to look at increasing the mandatory wearing of masks as we have on HSR buses. We encourage the Province to adopt a consistent approach to mask wearing regionally and across Ontario.”

 - Mayor Fred Eisenberger

All the Mayors and Chairs committed to working with their local medical officers of health to explore how they can best advance the universal wearing of non-medical masks and face coverings inside businesses and other indoor places where the public gathers, including on transit. This would likely include mandatory face coverings in certain circumstances which some municipalities have already adopted. Subject to consultation with Medical Officers of Health it is expected GTHA municipalities will be addressing this matter in the immediate future.

We are at a critical time in the fight against COVID-19. We must do everything we can to avoid flare-ups of the virus in our communities.

The Mayors and Chairs urged the Province to continue to take a measured approach to moving to Stage 3 of the reopening consistent with the evidence and the advice of Medical Officers of Health. They further encourage the Province to embrace a regional approach to these decisions to take account of differing circumstances.

The Mayors and Chairs take note of the particularly difficult circumstances of the hospitality and restaurant industry and support the examination of some accelerated opening for that industry taken with the context of the measured reopening recommended above.

Committing to regional action on face coverings is one more way the GTHA municipalities are working to support the restart of our economy which is crucial to the economic success of Ontario and Canada. We continue to call on the federal and provincial governments to take action to financially support the GTHA municipalities for the costs incurred and revenues lost during the pandemic.”