City of Ottawa May Soon Make Masks Mandatory in Enclosed Common Areas of Condominiums

We mentioned in a previous blog that the City of Ottawa could soon follow the City of Toronto’s example and make masks and face coverings mandatory on the common areas of apartment buildings and condominiums.

We also previously reported on the letter from Ottawa Public Health strongly encouraging such a measure. The Ottawa City Council will now consider a proposal to amend the existing Temporary Mask By-law to include a provision making masks and other face coverings mandatory on the common areas of condominiums and multi-residential buildings.

Under the existing City of Ottawa by-law (enacted on July 15, 2020), persons entering or remaining within an enclosed public space are required to wear a mask in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin. “Enclosed Public Space” includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, and banquet halls;
  • Retail establishments and shopping malls;
  • Places of worship;
  • Libraries, museums, art galleries, cinemas, theaters, and other recreational facilities;
  • Sports facilities, sports clubs, gyms, dance studios, and stadiums;
  • Hotels, motels, and short-term rental premises;
  • Facilities under the control of a regulated health professional
  • Hospitals and independent health facilities, such as lobbies, food courts, cafeterias, and shops;
  • Temporary facilities such as construction trailers and temporary sales offices;
  • Municipal facilities (e.g. City Hall) and any community centre, cultural arts or leisure centre, recreational or sporting facility, client service centre or indoor parking facility; and
  • Any other premises that are permitted to operate under the Emergency Orders in effect across the province.

While the Temporary Mask By-law in its current form does not explicitly include the common spaces and shared amenities of condominiums as enclosed public spaces, the forthcoming amendment to the by-law will provide that persons entering or remaining in the enclosed common areas of condominiums or multi-unit residential buildings be required to wear a mask. The enclosed common areas of condominiums and multi-residential buildings will include:

  • Entrances;
  • Lobbies;
  • Elevators;
  • Laundry rooms;
  • Gyms; and
  • Any other interior shared space or amenity

Moreover, building operators (including condominium corporations) will be required to post signage at every entry and exit to the building reminding residents (and visitors) to wear a mask, and they will be required to provide alcohol-based sanitizers or rubs at all entrances. That said, the by-law does exempt certain groups from the requirement to wear a mask, including very young children, persons with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask, persons who need to temporarily remove the mask for certain specific activities (e.g. engaging in an athletic or a fitness activity, or consuming food), and employees of the building operator who are not working within an enclosed public space.

If approved at the next City Council meeting, the new provision making masks mandatory on condominiums’ common areas would be in effect immediately. Further, the City of Ottawa will also consider extending the Temporary Mask By-law until the end of October (it is currently due to expire on August 26, 2020).

We will be sure to keep you updated on this ever-evolving issue. In the meantime, please see our blog where we outline some suggestions for condominium corporations and Boards on how to be best prepared!