Region of Waterloo considers extension of face covering bylaw through next spring
KITCHENER -- The Region of Waterloo is considering extending its face covering bylaw through next spring.
According to its agenda posted online, regional council will discuss the extension at a meeting next week.
The bylaw, which came into effect on July 13, mandates masks and face coverings in all public indoor spaces in the region. It also includes public transit vehicles and shelters. When drafting the original bylaw, council decided to keep it in place until Sept. 30, with a possibility of extension.
Now, council recommends keeping the bylaw in place until May 31, 2021.
"The date of May 31, 2021 should get us through the flu season and there's regular flu spread as well as the prospect of having community spread of COVID-19," Regional Chair Karen Redman said.
The agenda also said councillors are considering mandating face coverings in enclosed common areas of multi-residential buildings, along with people in taxis while they're in service.
The agenda says COVID-19 is still a risk in the community, with an increased risk of spreading the virus moving into the fall and winter months.
Council also notes that businesses and schools have reopened, which could increase exposure to COVID-19.
"Recent models predict that lifting restrictions (e.g. opening businesses and schools) without strengthening other controls will likely cause the epidemic to rebound," the agenda reads in part.
Regional council also points to influenza infections circulating in the province as the weather cools.
"There's a real acknowledgement that COVID-19 continues to be in the community and there continues to be community spread," Redman said.
"It is even more important to keep COVID-19 numbers low during flu season, as cases of influenza and other respiratory viruses may put additional strain on the healthcare system," the agenda reads. "This could reduce our ability to best care for people who become seriously ill if COVID-19 cases are also high."
If the change goes ahead next week, the bylaw extension and new additions would come into effect on Sept. 28.
Read the full agenda here:
This is a corrected story. It originally said the bylaw would extend into the summer, when in fact it will remain in place into the spring.