'No objection' to mandatory face mask policy if Ottawa's top doctor recommends it: Mayor Watson
Face masks seem to be emerging as an important accessory to any outfit as Canadians start to settle into ‘the new normal.’
OTTAWA -- Mayor Jim Watson says he has "no objection" to a possible mandatory face mask policy if Ottawa's medical officer of health recommends it.
Dr. Vera Etches told reporters on Monday that Ottawa Public Health and the City of Ottawa are "seriously exploring our options" for making masks mandatory in indoor settings.
Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA with host Kristy Cameron on Canada Day, Mayor Watson said an announcement on whether masks will be mandatory in indoor spaces will be made by the end of the week.
"My office has been in touch with Keith Egli (Chair of Ottawa's Board of Health) and Dr. Etches, and we're just trying to make sure that if we're going to go on down that path everything is lined up from a legal point of view, " said Watson.
"So we've had to go out and consult our lawyers."
Watson says city staff are looking at whether Council needs to pass a mandatory face mask resolution for the City of Ottawa or if Dr. Etches has the authority to issue a directive to make masks mandatory in indoor spaces.
Council is scheduled to meet on July 15.
"I have no objection to the concept and if it comes forward as a recommendation from Dr. Etches, we will recommend it because it's all about your safety and your family's safety," said Watson about a possible mandatory face mask policy in Ottawa.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit says an announcement will be made next week to make face masks mandatory in all indoor public places from Prescott-Russell to Cornwall, Alexandria and Hawkesbury.
On Tuesday, Toronto city council approved a bylaw that makes face coverings mandatory in indoor public spaces, starting July 7.
Mayor Watson says the City of Ottawa will need to make sure it's prepared for a possible face mask policy.
"We have to make sure there's enough masks available, said Watson.
"We're a city of a million people and there was a run on masks, and if we go down this path and people say 'we can't find any masks to buy at the pharmacies because they're sold out', that causes a problem as well."
In the U.S., there have been protests over policies making face masks mandatory in public places. Watson says the City of Ottawa would not implement a face mask policy just to be an inconvenience to people..
"We're telling people we want to make something mandatory because it's for your own good health," said Watson.
"We're not doing this because we want to annoy you. The evidence shows you wearing a mask helps someone else, and someone else wearing a mask helps you."