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Region of Waterloo council repeals face covering bylaw


The Region of Waterloo will lift its mask mandate at the same time the province does.

On Wednesday, regional council voted unamimously to repeal its face covering bylaw effective March 21, in line with the province.

Masks will no longer be required in these spaces on Monday:

  • Stores and shopping malls
  • Indoor areas of restaurants and bars
  • Professional services such as counselling, personal care, funeral homes, repair and rental services
  • Lobby areas of commercial buildings
  • Enclosed common areas of multi-residential buildings
  • Hotels and motels
  • Laundromats
  • Indoor areas of fitness centres, gyms and recreational sports facilities
  • Indoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas
  • Arcades and other indoor amusement facilities
  • Museums, galleries, historic sites, etc
  • Places of worship
  • Municipal buildings
  • Inside taxis, limousines and other ride sharing vehicles

Masks will still be required on public transit, in hospitals and medical clinics, and in congregate settings and long-term care homes until April 27.

"There is a caution as we ease restrictions and as we ease the mandatory mask requirement," said Regional chair Karen Redman. "People still need to be cautious."

Regional council called Wednesday's special meeting last week after Ontario announced it would lift its mask mandate on March 21.

The region's masking bylaw, enacted in July 2020, predates the provincial mandate by a few months.

Speaking at Wednesday's meeting, the region's medical officer of health, Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, said she would continue to recommend mask-wearing during periods of elevated risk, but there are now enough other tools in place to help manage COVID-19.

Redman urged people to be considerate of those who continue to choose to wear a mask moving forward.

"As we go about these changes, it is important that we all err on the side of generosity, grace and kindness with our interactions with our fellow residents, family and coworkers," she said. "If you see people wearing masks, know that they have a rationale and a context for why they're making that choice."

"The pandemic isn't over. We may be done with the pandemic. This pandemic is not done with us."

Wednesday's vote passed despite some pleas from the public to consider those living with immunocompromised family members.

"We have spent the last two years isolating with extremely limited contact," delegate Teresa McQuillin told council. "Myself, unable to work, no schooling, and only going out to access essential services. I cannot restrict my life anymore than I have for the past two years."

With reporting from CTV Kitchener's Spencer Turcotte Top Stories

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