KITCHENER -- Masks will be mandatory in indoor public spaces and on Grand River Transit later this month.

Regional councillors voted in favour of the two bylaws at a special meeting on Monday night.

"The goal is to increase the percentage of those who can to wear masks to decrease a chance of that resurgence,” said Regional Coun. and Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry during Monday’s meeting.

“We heard that tonight, that even 60 to 80 per cent of people to wear masks can certainly help with that."

The bylaws will come into effect on July 13. It will stay in effect until at least Sept. 30, with an option for extension if needed.

READ MORE: What you need to know about Waterloo Region's face covering bylaws

Face coverings are required in the following locations, with some exceptions:

  • Buses, bus shelters, ION trains and ION platforms
  • Stores and shopping malls
  • Indoor areas of restaurants and bars, with the exception of patrons consuming food/drink
  • Professional services such as counselling, personal care, funeral homes, repair and rental services
  • Lobby areas of commercial buildings
  • Hotels and motels, with the exception of rented rooms
  • Laundromats
  • Indoor areas of fitness centres, gyms and recreational and sports facilities
  • Indoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas
  • Arcades and other indoor amusement facilities
  • Museums, galleries, historic sites, etc.
  • Places of worship
  • Municipal buildings

Mask use won't be necessary on patios or in outdoor public settings.

The second bylaw says face coverings need to be worn on Grand River Transit buses and the LRT, along with bus shelters and transit platforms. Coun. Elizabeth Clarke said masks will be provided if people don't have their own.

The bylaws proceeded with amendments, including asking staff to come up with an exemption for people who are hard of hearing or their caregivers.

Kitchener Mayor Barry Vrbanovic put forward a motion to remove a portion of the bylaw that put the onus on businesses to stop people from entering if they aren't wearing a mask.

Under the bylaws, businesses will need to display signage about the masking bylaw.

The special meeting lasted over five hours on Monday night, with delegates speaking both in support and against the bylaw.

Regional officials said enforcement would be based on complaints of non-compliance. Waterloo Region CAO Mike Murray said bylaw officers would focus on education and awareness, rather than punishment.