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, making face coverings mandatory in enclosed public indoor spaces, including all City of Brantford facilities and public transit.
The bylaw will come into effect on Friday, the same day the province moves into the next phase of its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing the reopening of many more businesses.
There some exceptions though:
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.
The City of Brantford will also be spending up to $20,000 to provide reusable masks to those who can’t afford them.
The duration of the new bylaw will be assessed by council on a bi-monthly basis.
Brant County’s motion was passed in a much closer vote, of six to five. Although many councilors vocally supported the idea of mandatory face coverings, issues arose with the wording of the bylaw, why the municipality is responsible for driving the bylaw, and how the county would defend the bylaw if challenged.
In response, the County Council made 2 amendments. 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.
The new County bylaw is set to take effect on Monday, July 20.