Hamilton City Council votes to rescind mask and physical distancing bylaws


Published March 21, 2022 at 3:08 pm

Hamilton City Council has voted to rescind bylaws enacted early in the pandemic to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

At a special Council meeting held Monday (March 21), councillors voted in favour of repealing bylaws requiring face coverings and physical distancing in public places in the community.

The vote to repeal the city’s physical distancing bylaw was carried on a unanimous vote of 14-0 and the city’s mandatory face-covering bylaw was rescinded on a vote of 12-2.

The decision comes on the same day that Ontario dropped masking mandates in most public places, except in settings considered high risk.

Select settings such as public transit, health-care 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.

In introducing a motion to repeal the bylaws, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger noted he brought it forward very ‘reluctantly.’

The Ontario government, Eisenberger said, created a “completely untenable” situation by dropping masking requirements and making it next to impossible for city staff to enforce its current face-covering bylaw.

“I have a lot of anxiety about this,” he said. “I worry about the impacts of this in our broader community.”

Under the city’s bylaw, which was introduced in June 2020, an individual found to be in contravention could be fined anywhere from $200 and more for repeat infractions.

In his remarks prior to the council vote, Eisenberger noted that Hamilton Public Health Services still strongly recommend still wearing a mask in public settings, avoiding crowded, high-risk settings, hand-washing and getting vaccinated to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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