Over the past two weeks I’ve heard from many of you, both in support and in opposition to a “mandatory mask” order for public spaces.

    I’ve heard many “while Toronto is doing it…” or some other community. This is a refrain I heard about the supposed river front renewal of “Back to the River”, and many other issues from BRT to flex streets, to industrial land use. I want to be very clear, while I will always look at the experiences of other communities and possible lessons learned, my focus will always be on what makes sense for London. The same is true of masks.

    I’ve had a number of people say, “we need to do this now, look Kingston was doing well too and then they had an outbreak of new cases”. It is true, Kingston did have an outbreak, connected to a nail salon where masks were already required under provincial orders. Masks orders did not stop the Kingston outbreak from occurring. Again, while I will look at the experiences of other communities, I will look to do what is best for London.

    I think it is also worth noting that in other communities, action has also been taken in coordination with or directly by the Medical Officer of Health for the regional health units of those communities.

    Last night at Council’s Strategic Priorities Committee, we had a motion brought forward with only 3 hrs notice asking staff to consult with the county and Middlesex-London Health Unit and come back with recommendations for a temporary by-law.

    First, I will say I was very critical of an important motion coming forward on such short notice. This by the way highlights one of the problems with a so-called “part-time” council. Several colleagues were at other jobs and had less than an hour’s notice on this. That is not acceptable.

    We ultimately ended up amending the motion (thank you Councillor Josh Morgan for your leadership on this amendment) to have our Chief Medical Officer of Health come before council at the earliest opportunity to answer our questions about masks, the advisability of by-laws, and what impact, if any, it would have in terms of public health benefit.
    Continue Reading