Niagara Region will have a mandatory mask bylaw amid the COVID-19 pandemic for three months starting at the end of July.
In a special council meeting on Thursday night, councillors voted for in favour of enacting a measure that requires masks to be worn in indoor public spaces, businesses and public transit with exceptions for medical conditions and for children under 5.
There was little discussion over the matter as Thorold regional councillor Tim Whalen motioned to end any further debate, citing that council had already had a healthy debate two weeks ago.
His motion passed 20 to 11.
Of those who did get time to speak, Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati said the reason he voted for a deferral, when the proposed bylaw was brought forward at a council meeting on July 8, was due to the fact he thought it was incomplete.
“I didn’t think it was a good idea to vote on something and then amend it later. That’s the tail wagging the dog,” said Diodati.
“I wanted to make sure that we got it right.”
The amended bylaw brought to council on Thursday included a few tweaks, most notably the wearing of masks by passengers on all buses and not just the transit systems in municipalities where it was approved a few weeks back.
The bylaw will also overwrite existing mandatory mask bylaws in St. Catharines and Niagara-On-The-Lake.
The vote was not unanimous with West Lincoln mayor David Bylsma voting no and Niagara-On-The-Lake Coun. Gary Zalepa wanting to abstain from the vote, but was told it would count as a no vote by regional clerk Ann-Marie Norio.
The bylaw is set to go into effect on July 31 and tentatively end on Oct. 1.
Niagara Region reports 3 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday
Niagara public health officials reported three more coronavirus cases on Thursday. The region now has 816 total cases, with 47 of them active.
The region has no new deaths. To date, 64 people have died in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The region has six institutional outbreaks including Garden City Manor, Linhaven and Tabor Manor long-term care homes in St. Catharines. There’s also an outbreak at the Eventide Home on Jepson Street in Niagara Falls.
Niagara Region will move into Stage 3 of the province’s COVID-19 reopening plan on Friday.
The directive means most businesses and public spaces will now be able to open with “appropriate health and safety measures in place,” the province said in a release on Monday.
Several activities and business are not included in the expanded opening: large amusement parks, overnight camps for children, buffets, restaurants and bars with dancing, karaoke rooms, sports events with prolonged contact, saunas, steam rooms, bathhouses, oxygen bars, as well as casinos and gaming establishments will not be permitted to operate in Stage 3.
The move does allow social gathering limits to increase to a maximum of 50 people indoors, and 100 outdoors.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
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