The City of Toronto is launching a campaign that serves to remind residents of the municipal bylaws and provincial regulations that require masks or face coverings to be worn in all indoor environments, common areas in multi-residential buildings inclusive.
The campaign -- which will run on digital screens in residential apartment buildings and condominiums, online, and on social media -- will urge the use of masks or face coverings in enclosed common spaces including elevators, hallways, lobbies, laundry rooms, and any other shared facilities.
“COVID-19 continues to be a threat to us all and we need to remain vigilant, especially as new variants of the virus have been confirmed in Toronto. Wearing a mask is the right thing to do. I know we all have pandemic fatigue, but we must not let our guard down and continue to wear masks, especially in common areas of apartments or condominiums," says Mayor John Tory.
"The public health advice is clear that this will help protect you, your family and your neighbours.”
According to city officials, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests the use of masks and face coverings is an inexpensive, acceptable and non-invasive way the spread of COVID-19 can be controlled. The virus is spread through contact with the respiratory droplets produced by someone who is infected, even if they may not have symptoms, when they cough, sneeze -- or even when they laugh or speak.
Evidence suggests that wearing a mask reduces the likelihood of droplets infecting those around an individual, officials say.
Masks or face coverings should fully cover the mouth, nose, and chin. To help residents discern whether they are wearing and caring for their non-medical masks effectively, the City has produced two informative videos which run through proper processes:
Toronto's bylaws have been amended in the Toronto Municipal Code to require a mask or face covering to be worn in all indoor public spaces in Toronto, and in common areas in apartments and condominiums; this is in addition to provincial regulations on mandatory mask or face coverings.
Implemented in August 2020, the bylaw for apartments and condos requires building owners to:
• post signage [about mask usage] at all entrances to enclosed common areas
• ensure that everyone working at the building has been trained in the policy and bylaw, and
• provide a copy of the policy for inspection by City Bylaw Enforcement Officers, if requested.
The City is encouraging residents who see a pattern of issues with masks in common areas of their residential building to raise their concerns with their landlord or building manager. If the issues persist or no action is taken by management, those residents can call 311 for support. An analysis of 311 data revealed to officials that from August 5 of last year -- when the mask bylaw came into effect -- through to January 18, 2021, the City received 1,950 complaints about improper mask usage in shared residential spaces.
Of these complaints, 263 locations received three or more complaints, and 12 locations received more than 10. Residential apartment building complaints made up 75% of the total, while 25% stemmed from condos. In response to these complaints, city officials will be issuing letters about the mask requirement bylaw to the landlords and property managers of each of the affected locations. The landlords and property managers of the 12 locations with more than 10 complaints will receive in-person follow-ups as well.
More information on the mask bylaw is available here. Like the City’s mask or face covering by-law for indoor public spaces, the apartment and condo bylaw includes exemptions for individuals who are unable to wear a mask or face covering for medical reasons, children under two years old, and other reasonable accommodations.