Ottawa city council has expanded its mandatory mask bylaw to require everyone cover their mouth, nose and chin in the common areas of apartment buildings and condominiums, including lobbies and elevators.
"I've heard loud and clear this was a concern," said Bay ward Coun. Theresa Kavanagh.
She said seniors in particular were worried when they discovered common areas in their buildings didn't fall under the original mandatory mask bylaw passed in July.
"There's friction now," agreed Coun. Riley Brockington.
Ottawa's medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches, wrote building managers on Aug. 6 to strongly recommend they require residents to wear masks outside their units, but the policy had not been widely adopted.
During a virtual meeting Wednesday, city council made it an enforceable bylaw, effective immediately.
Multi-unit residential buildings were not on the list of places covered by the original bylaw, which included everything from stores to restaurants to hotel lobbies, because they weren't considered spaces open to the general public.
High-risk outdoor zones
The expanded bylaw also gives the city the power to designate specific outdoor areas as high-risk zones where people will need to wear masks at certain times.
For instance, such a zone might be enforced on Clarence Street in the ByWard Market or on Elgin Street during the busy bar hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., suggested the general manager in charge of emergency services, Anthony Di Monte.
Di Monte said such an order could only be given if the medical officer of health deems it necessary — if there have been substantiated complaints, for example.
The mandatory mask bylaw has been extended until at least Oct. 31.
State of emergency extended
Mayor Jim Watson said the city will remain in a state of emergency until at least the end of September because that makes it easier to procure necessary goods such as personal protective equipment during the pandemic.
Watson first declared the municipal state of emergency on March 25. As head of council, such a declaration is in effect until Watson decides it's over.
Meanwhile, the city treasurer is expected to deliver an update about the financial pressures created by COVID-19. Earlier this month, Ottawa learned it would receive $124 million from upper levels of government toward its $192 million projected shortfall, and the city manager is hopeful they'll close the rest of that gap.
City staff working from home have been directed to continue doing so until the end of 2020.