Confused? Should people follow Mississauga or Ontario mask rules?

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Published March 21, 2022 at 2:08 pm

Strictly speaking, Mississauga residents who take off their face masks in most public settings today (March 21), as allowed by the Ontario government, will be violating city rules.

However, they won’t be fined by City of Mississauga bylaw enforcement officers as municipal officials and their provincial counterparts largely agree it’s time people be allowed to remove the face coverings now that COVID-19 numbers are on the way down.

It’s an administrative detail that’s creating confusion among some residents who aren’t sure whether they’re allowed to ditch the masks now, as Ontario allows, or if they must continue wearing them for another few days, or 10 days, under the Mississauga bylaw.

While the provincial government says people across Ontario are no longer required to wear the face coverings as of March 21, except on public transit and in hospitals and long-term care centres, Mississauga’s mask bylaw doesn’t expire until March 31.

Mississauga officials have said they’re in alignment with the Ontario government on the matter and City council will likely decide to scrap the municipal bylaw as of this Wednesday (March 23), when it next meets.

“Given some administrative requirements, this decision to alter/remove a bylaw has to be made at a City council meeting, and the first planned one following the Province’s announcement on changes to masking requirements is March 23,” City officials said in an email to insauga.com. “Regarding fines and enforcement, we will respond to any complaints, as we have done throughout the pandemic, but will not be proactively enforcing the mandatory mask bylaw given the current circumstances. Where possible, we always opt to educate first before fines are issued.”

Mayor Bonnie Crombie said earlier that she expects council will vote this week in favour of expiring Mississauga’s mask bylaw eight days earlier than scheduled.

Starting today (March 21), face masks are longer required in schools, retail settings and most other indoor public spaces in Ontario. The change comes a few weeks after the Province lifted proof-of-vaccination rules and capacity limits.

Select settings such as public transit, healthcare facilities, long-term care homes and congregate care settings, will keep mask mandates until the end of April, when the Province plans to put an end to all remaining public health rules.

Provincial politicians and top health officials say public health indicators have improved enough to remove mask rules, which have also been lifted in other jurisdictions across Canada and around the world.

School boards that wanted more time to keep mask mandates have been ordered by the Province to adhere to the official end date, but the Hamilton-Wentworth school board has said it plans to keep the mask requirement until April 1.

–With files from The Canadian Press

 

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