Discussions underway in Hamilton, Ont., to make masks mandatory at enclosed public spaces

Based on recommendations from their medical officers of health on Tuesday, two GTHA municipalities opted to make face coverings mandatory in all commercial and indoor public spaces to slow the spread amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Toronto and Peel Region will use time-limited bylaws to enforce wearing masks starting next week and a number of there municipalities are about to follow suit, including Hamilton.

In a city update on Tuesday, Mayor Fred Eisenberger said the idea is “just common sense” in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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“I think it gives people a greater comfort level and it helps businesses with the ambiguity around who should and we should not be wearing a mask,” Eisenberger said.

The city’s medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, confirmed that discussions are underway but it’s not imminent since the city’s low number of cases gives Hamilton time to watch what happens in other regions in Ontario with mandatory bylaws, such as Guelph and Kingston.

“So we have a bit of time to step back, look at the issue a little further as more evidence comes out that does support that this can be helpful and make a decision here in Hamilton” said Richardson.

“So we’ll be talking about it more and be working with council around it.”

Currently, the city only requires mask use on HSR buses.

City to offer free masks for HSR riders

Emergency operations centre (EOC) director Paul Johnson said the city will issue masks for HSR rides as people need them at the Hunter Street Go centre starting on Monday.

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“We’re also working with DARTS and we’re working with a number of social service organizations across the city to distribute masks to individuals who access those programs in order to get masks in the hands of those who need it most, ” Johnson said.

The EOC director said the HSR will not be providing masks as passengers get on buses saying newly installed plexi glass shields surrounding driver make it virtually impossible to distribute.

Hamilton reports 9 more COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Hamilton, Ont., reported nine new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, putting the city’s overall number of cases on Tuesday at 842 with 834 confirmed and eight probable, according to public health.

The city has no current institutional outbreaks and 15 COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 12 with Hamilton Health Sciences and three with St. Joseph’s hospital.

To date, 737 of the city’s known COVID-19 cases — 88 per cent — have been resolved.

There were no new reported deaths on the weekend, holding the total coronavirus-related deaths at 44. Thirty-four of the city’s deaths are connected to an institutional outbreak.

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Niagara Region reports 6 new COVID-19 cases

Niagara public health officials reported six new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. The region has 759 total cases, with 33 of them active.

The region reported no new deaths, leaving the overall total at 61, with 50 tied to long-term care or retirement homes.

The region has three institutional outbreaks at two long-term care homes (Garden City Manor in St. Catharines and Crescent Park Lodge in Fort Erie) and Pioneer Flower Farms in St. Catharines.

Eighty-seven per cent (665) of Niagara’s cases have been resolved.

Haldimand-Norfolk reports no new COVID-19 cases 

Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) reported no new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and the region sits at 444 lab-confirmed, positive cases.

Officials say 234 of those patients have since recovered.

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The region has 32 COVID-19-connected deaths.

Halton Region reports 2 new COVID-19 cases

Halton Region reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The region now has 835 cases, including 754 confirmed positive and 81 probable cases.

The region still has 25 deaths tied to COVID-19 as of June 30, with 12 the result of an outbreak at an institution.

Public health says 756 cases, or more than 90 per cent, have been resolved.

The region declared an outbreak at Billings Court Manor long-term care home over on Monday. The outbreak started on June 18 when a resident tested positive at the facility.

The region now has three institutional outbreaks at two long-term care homes in Burlington (Creek Way Village, and CAMA Woodlands). The third is at the Waterford long-term care home in Oakville.

Eighty-one of Halton’s total cases are connected to residents or patients in an institution.

Brant County reports one new COVID-19 case

Brant County’s health unit (BCHU) reported one new COVID-19 case on Tuesday. The region has 122 total confirmed cases as of June 30.

The county still has four deaths, one active case and 117 total resolved cases.

The institutional outbreak at ​Telfer Place retirement residence was declared over on Monday. Two staff members tested positive for the disease in mid-June.

During the outbreak, BCHU says 143 residents and staff were tested and all of results came back negative.

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Brant County’s acting medical officer of health Dr. Elizabeth Urbantke said the agency is discussing the possibility of mandatory masks in public saying the move is one of the “best ways” to prevent the spread of the disease.

“I do support wearing masks in public and it’s been active. It’s being actively discussed,” Urbantke said.

Since the start of Stage 2, Urbantke says the health unit has received 68 complaints connected to “inadequate” physical distancing which has resulted in agency staff have to make visits to businesses and other areas of the city.



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