BY CLOVER STERLING AND ALEX GREGORY
Shoppers throughout Peel Region saw a sea of blue-and-yellow non-medical masks last week, as a mandatory bylaw became official in all enclosed public spaces in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. The new bylaw, which came into effect last week, means that anyone entering an indoor area without a mask will be denied entry. Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie was onhand last week at Square One Shopping Centre to greet visitors on the first day of mandatory usage, speaking with patrons entering the mall and reminding others who were not wearing one about the mandatory usage. So far, she said, residents were abiding by the new bylaw. “Now that the economy is reopening and people are gathering, the risk of transmission is higher,” Crombie told Asia Metro.
”We want to use this as a precautionary measure and avert that potential second wave in the Fall, and that’s why we have made masks mandatory.” Crombie added there is no need to enforce the order because people in the city are following the rules and regulations. “We are into single digit increases. We’ve been flattening that curve here in Mississauga. I think people generally are very civic minded and want to do their duty to protect other people from themselves,” Crombie said. “That’s why you wear your mask and you protect someone else from yourself. If they wear it, they protect you from them… that’s how it works.”
Residents in all three municipalities must wear a mask when going to the following areas: grocery stores, places of worship, libraries, restaurants, recreational facilities, personal care businesses and event spaces. As it stands, the regulation applies to children aged 2 years and older. Persons with medical conditions are exempt, but they must provide proof if requested.
The region’s push for mandatory mask usage followed similar bylaws mandated by Toronto and other cities throughout the country late last month, though businesses are currently not mandated to provide masks to customers if they are unable to afford the expense or are unable to provide supplies of non-medical masks. Despite that, indoor businesses can refuse service to those who refuse to wear a mask. “We want businesses that are open to stay open, and we want more businesses to be able to enter Phase 3 and reopen, so we can get our economy back open again,” said Crombie. While the two metre physical distancing rule continues, many patrons coming into Square One last week said they had no problem wearing a mask. “It’s our responsibility to do what we can to try and help each other, so if wearing a mask helps somebody i’m okay with it,” Brampton resident Maureen Hilton told Asia Metro . Others walking into the mall were approached by Square One staff and sent to a nearby customer service kiosk to obtain a mask after explaining that they did not bring one with them. While the region continues to curb the spread of the virus, the motion has received generally favorable responses from residents, with many saying that the measures should have been put in place by health professionals earlier.