We have a face mask bylaw - comes into effect July 20th - unless the Region comes up with something different

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 14th, 2020



At times it seemed like a gong show.

The Mayor was riding herd on a city council that wasn’t in the Council Chamber.

There was a motion on the floor that was being bombarded with amendments – then amendments on the amendments.  A field day for those who tuck Roberts Rules of Order under their pillows.

City Solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol and one of her staff spent a large part of the weekend writing the bylaw – which they then proceeded to re-vise via amendments on the fly.

It was a gong show indeed with Councillor Kearns getting close to emotional when she insisted the the signs that are to go up in every place of business had to point out that three year old children did not have to wear a mask.

At one point Councillor Sharman seemed throw his arms up in despair and say that “sure” I’ll go along with that.

We are going to have to wait for the minutes of the meeting to determine just how many amendments there were.

council chamber with fans May 25

The Mayor, an assistant, the City Clerk and the AV person are in the Council chamber – the rest are at home taking part via zoom

But City Council did approve a temporary bylaw that makes masks or face coverings mandatory in enclosed spaces open to the public in Burlington, as of July 20, 2020.

All seven members of Council will troop into a ZOOM Regional meeting and perhaps approve something different which would make the Burlington motion mute ?

Mayor Meed Ward was so proud of what her Council had done and said that she felt the Burlington bylaw would become the “gold standard”.

The bylaw is generally consistent with other mask bylaws whereby individuals or organizations that are responsible for operation of businesses or facilities with enclosed (indoor) space open to the public be required to ensure no member of the public is permitted entry or remains on the premises unless wearing a mask or face covering.

Solicitor Shea Nicol said what her office put together was based on the city of Toronto model.

Halton’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hamidah Meghani, recommends the use of face coverings when physical distancing could be a challenge and is supportive of municipalities implementing bylaws that aim to increase the use of face coverings as an additional layer of protection to control COVID-19 in the community.

The new bylaw applies to all indoor spaces that are openly accessible to the public, including:

• retail stores
• convenience stores
• malls, shopping plazas
• grocery stores, bakeries, farmer’s markets (enclosed areas)
• restaurants, bars (when permitted to open for indoor service)
• indoor recreational facilities (unless exempted)
• libraries
• community centres
• community service agencies
• personal service settings
• churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and faith settings
• art galleries, museums
• banquet halls, convention centres, arenas and other event spaces
• real estate facilities such as open house, presentation centres
• common areas in hotels, motels and short-term rentals (e.g. lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms)
• entertainment facilities including concert venues, theatres and cinemas
• business offices open to the public

Although masks are widely available in retails stores and online retailers, plans are being developed for residents who are unable to purchase their own masks.

Exemptions and Exceptions
The bylaw includes exemptions for those who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons including mental health concerns, children under the age of three and other reasonable accommodations.

Children under three years of age should never be required to wear a mask or face covering.

The bylaw also permits the temporary removal of a mask or face covering when receiving services, having a meal or engaging in athletic or fitness activity. The bylaw does not apply to apartment buildings and condominiums, child care facilities and schools, and areas that are not enclosed (i.e. restaurant patios).

Adjusting to the mandatory mask bylaw will take some time. Residents are encouraged to be kind and compassionate with each other, and to approach fellow community members who may not be wearing a mask with understanding and offers of assistance, rather than judgement.

To report an incident of noncompliance, contact the Halton Regional Police Service COVID19 Hotline: 905-825-4722.

As residents continue to rediscover many of their favourite spaces and activities in the city, City services may look different as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19. The City’s commitment to providing the community with essential services remains a priority.

Meed Ward with chain Sept 23-19

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward – sitting as Chair of a City Council meeting.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward gets the last word:  “The situation around this pandemic changes daily and as new information emerges, we must be ready to respond quickly. We recently learned of our ability to pass a bylaw, and with the support of Halton’s Medical Officer of Health, we believe passing a temporary mandatory mask bylaw is another way to keep our community healthy and safe as we restart our economy and open more activities to the public. Halton Region will also be considering a bylaw on July 15, but we can’t wait. Passing our own helps us ensure the bylaw meets the needs of our local community. There will be exemptions and we will take an educational approach to enforcement, with ticketing as a last resort.

I implore everyone to treat each other with kindness and compassion, and not shame or stigmatize those who have legitimate reasons for being unable to wear masks. This has been democracy in action, based on health evidence and advice. I want to thank everyone who provided feedback. We tried to reflect the support, as well as the concerns we heard in this bylaw proposal.”

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5 comments to We have a face mask bylaw – comes into effect July 20th – unless the Region comes up with something different

  • Sam

    Face masks do not protect you from viruse . It was said by health officials that with this virus it can go right through a mask . So why wear them if they don’t actually do.the job. Why give people a false sense of security .

  • Penny Hersh

    Exemptions to Masks – This by-law has no teeth. “Be Kind to one another” – really- how about “Protect your fellow residents”?


    schools, post-secondary institutions, and child care facilities and indoor/outdoor day camps;
    premises or any portion thereof (including City indoor facilities and community centres) used for City run recreational programs that require registration;
    court facilities;
    professional offices where clients receive purchased services (such as lawyer or accountant office) that are not open to members of the public except by appointment;
    indoor areas of a building accessible to only employees;
    hospitals, independent health facilities and offices of regulated health professionals.

    I went into the TD Bank on Brant/Caroline ( to sign some paperwork for a volunteer organization that I am involved in, otherwise I would not have been in the bank). The sign entering the bank from the parking lot indicated that people had to wait in line ( outside, in the heat and today in the rain), before being allowed admittance. Inside not one employee was wearing a mask, all the clients were. When asked why employees were not wearing a mask when dealing with the public ( especially in this area where there is a very large senior demographic) I was told they didn’t have to.

    Is this how businesses are “being kind to one another”.

    Yes Burlington has fewer Covid 19 cases than many Municipalities, but there were 4 more this past week, and when things start opening up watch for the spike. One case or death is too many.

    Just look at the above exemptions. Hours of deliberation and this is the best that council could come up with. Looks more to me like a city trying desperately not to be sued rather than protecting residents.

    I applaud Councillor Stolte for bringing a mandatory mask by-law to fruition, however, in my opinion, stricter guidelines are necessary.

  • Blair Smith

    I would like to personally thank Councillor Shawna Stolte for being the early and very principled driving force behind this necessary bylaw. Without Councillor Stolte’s dogged insistence, Burlington would still be riding the fence.

    The following is an interesting perspective from “The Atlantic” on some of the strange attitudes and behaviours experienced during the pandemic. Worth the read:


  • Eleanor LeBlanc

    Mandatory mask wearing will cause me to avoid frequenting restaurants, stores, libraries, entertainment facilities, personal services, church and art galleries. It will no longer be an enjoyable experience.

  • Penny Hersh

    My concern, if I heard the comments at Council correctly, restaurant kitchen employees are not required to wear any facial mask or face shield. The logic given was that these employees are in their own “bubble” in the kitchen. What happens when this “bubble” leaves the kitchen and interacts with their other social “bubble”?

    I am aware that wearing a facial shield in a restaurant kitchen is problematic as it is extremely hot in that area of the restaurant. These employees are not dealing with the public, however, they are handling the food that the public is going to eat.

    If this is indeed the case I think this needs to be re-examination.