Face masks now mandatory in Ottawa apartment, condo common areas
OTTAWA -- Ottawa city council has voted to make mask use mandatory in common areas of condo buildings and apartment buildings, including lobbies, elevators, laundry rooms and gyms.
The motion that was carried Wednesday also extends the temporary bylaw that makes masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces until Oct. 31, and gives the manager of emergency and protective services powers to require mask use in select outdoor areas where physical distancing is not possible.
The original bylaw making mask use mandatory in indoor public spaces, which was first passed July 15, was set to expire Aug. 26.
The changes also include expansion of the bylaw to condo and apartment building common areas. This will require building operators to post signage at every entrance to the premises advising of the mask requirement. Building operators must also ensure the availability of alcohol-based hand rub at all entrances.
"We have to go down to the garage we might meet somebody, go check our mail, no problems whatsoever with that. I agree with it totally," said Louise Down, who lives in a condo.
The new regulations come into effect immediately.
The expanded mask bylaw also gives the manager of emergency and protective services powers to identify "high risk areas or zones in the city where masks would be required on specific days of the week during specific hours of the day."
These would be outdoor areas where physical distancing is not possible.
"Over the course of the spring and summer months, there have been a number of instances of large gatherings in outdoor areas of the city where two-metre physical distancing was not practicable and masks were not being worn, thereby posing a significant risk for the transmission of the virus," the report prepared for city council states.
Any orders to impose mask requirements in such areas would only be issued if the medical officer of health confirmed mandatory face masks in a specific outdoor zone are needed. The area councillor and the Business Improvement Area would be notified.
Speaking to reporters after City Council, Emergency and Protective Services General Manager Anthony Di Monte gave an example of Clarence Street after 10 p.m. as an area where this order might be imposed.
"We had, initially, in the ByWard Market, that kind of in between situation when we were opening the patios and they weren't able to take as many people and there was influx on the street. We started identifying that that could become a problem, although that was corrected quickly," he said. "We are looking at having that tool in our toolbox for frosh week or if we open other areas of the city or, more importantly, if we identify an area that becomes problematic we want to have that tool in our tool box."
Di Monte said education is the primary goal but the rule now gives bylaw "another tool we can use if we have to."
In Ottawa, there's support for setting up mask zones if needed.
"I saw a few exceptions I guess, so yes, more of the places are doing a good job but I think it's slowly going downhill," said Maryse Forcier.
"I think people are going to get used to it and maybe they're going to be less careful so I think people need to keep that."
In the ByWard Market, people say there has been respect for the new mask bylaw.
"As far as restaurants or other public places I think they’re doing pretty good so far at making sure people follow the guidelines," said David Forcier.
"People are really respectful of the laws around here," said Diane Cardinal.
A small anti-mask protest was held outside City Hall Wednesday morning, but Board of Health chair Coun. Keith Egli said the vast majority of residents have adapted to regular mask use without issue.
"I'd like thank the residents of Ottawa. They have responded very positively toward the original introduction of the bylaw. They have come together collaboratively they've sense the sense of it and, as Dr. Etches said earlier in her report, we have not seen that many cases coming from circumstances where people are wearing masks," he said.