Hamilton might make masks mandatory in public spaces

As science and data emerges about the effectiveness of face masks for preventing the spread of COVID-19, Hamilton is looking at making masks and face coverings mandatory in enclosed public spaces citywide.

This new bylaw, if approved by city council, will mean that all locals who venture into indoor public spaces, such as grocery stores, shopping malls, and beyond, will be required to wear a face mask during their visit. Mayor Fred Eisenberger has expressed his support of the idea.

They don’t need to be medical-grade N95 masks either; a simple cloth mask or covering, worn securely over the mouth and nose, has been proven to significantly reduce the spread of droplets expelled by coughing, sneezing, speaking, and simply breathing.

The less of those droplets in the air, the less COVID-19 has a chance of spreading within the community; particularly as the local economy gradually reopens.

While basic non-medical cloth masks aren’t necessarily effective at protecting the wearer from the virus, they do help prevent the wearer from spreading it to others around them if they are potentially infected with the coronavirus; even pre-symptomatically or asymptomatically.

If everyone wears one, they are helping to protect the health and safety of the people around them. If everyone wears one, the local risk of spread for COVID-19 could eventually plummet.

Other municipalities, including the City of Toronto, have already taken steps to enforce mask-wearing; Torontonians will be required to wear one in indoor public spaces as of July 7th, with exceptions for children under two and people with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask.

Some local businesses and services, such as the HSR transit system, are already enforcing mask-wearing as part of their individual policies; however, this bylaw would mean that masks are enforced at a much longer list of public spaces in the city. Hamilton city officials are currently discussing the details of how and where masks would be mandatory.

To date, Hamilton has seen a total of 842 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 since March, of which 737 are considered resolved and 44 have resulted in death. 61 confirmed cases are still active.

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