During what turned into a lengthy special meeting, regional council has unanimously passed a mandatory mask bylaw.
The first part of the bylaw means residents will be required to wear a face covering in enclosed public places.
The second part of the bylaw will make face coverings on public transit, within bus shelters and on platforms of transit stations mandatory.
Children under the age of five, those who are unable to wear a face covering as a result of a medical condition or a disability and those engaged in sport or strenuous physical activity will all be exempt.
The bylaw will take effect on Monday, July 13.
It will be in place until September 30, but council can look at repealing it sooner, or possibly extending the bylaw.
The region says it will take an education-first approach, asking people to comply with the bylaw and educating them on the importance of protecting each other.
Face coverings are required in the following locations, with some exceptions:
- Buses, bus shelters, ION trains and ION platforms
- Stores and shopping malls
- Indoor areas of restaurants and bars, with the exception of patrons consuming food/drink
- Professional services such as counselling, personal care, funeral homes, repair and rental services
- Lobby areas of commercial buildings
- Hotels and motels, with the exception of rented rooms
- Indoor areas of fitness centres, gyms and recreational and sports facilities
- Indoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas
- Arcades and other indoor amusement facilities
- Museums, galleries, historic sites, etc.
- Places of worship
- Municipal buildings
“These by-laws provide clarity to individuals and businesses of the importance of wearing masks and face coverings to help us protect and respect each other,” said Regional Chair Karen Redman. “This is a key element to support our business community as we move forward, safely, with economic reopening and recovery.”
An education campaign will also be launched in the coming weeks.
More details about the bylaw will be posted on the region's website on Tuesday.