The City of Brantford and Brant County have both voted in favour of a mandatory face covering bylaw at special council meetings Tuesday night.
Brantford City Council voted unanimously in-favour of the bylaw, which will make face coverings mandatory in all enclosed public indoor spaces in the city of Brantford, including all City of Brantford facilities and public transit. Though there are exceptions.
Under the bylaw, children under age two are not required to wear a mask, and children between three and five who refuse to wear a mask are also exempt, along with people unable to put on or remove a mask without assistance; those with medical conditions or other disability that inhibits their ability to wear a mask; employees of a public space who are behind a physical barrier; and any paramedic, firefighter or police officer acting in the course of their duties.
It will come into effect Friday, the day most of the province will move into Stage 3 of Ontario’s economic recovery plan, and is open to review by council on a bi-monthly basis.
City Council also earmarked $20,000 to provide face masks to people in the community who can’t afford them.
Brant County’s motion was passed in a much closer vote, of six to five. Though almost all members did vocally back the idea of mandatory masks, there were questions and concerns over wording and why the County was the ones who had to drive the bylaw, and how they would enforce it.
The County Council did add two amendments, which mean that children five and younger will be exempt from face coverings and the bylaw will be returned to each council meeting for voting on whether it should be terminated.
County council also voted to revisit the bylaw following consultation with the medical officer of health, to finalize an end date.
The bylaw in the county is set to go into effect Monday, July 20th.
It was also mentioned at both meetings that these bylaws are not concerned with the current number of cases, but with the foretold second wave which historically is significantly worse than the first. The Brant County Health Unit as of Tuesday was reporting 11 active cases of COVID-19, for a total 134 cases and four deaths.