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Wearing of masks or other face coverings

As we prepare for the safe and gradual return to our campuses, the University of Toronto is taking several steps to protect our community and follow public health guidance.

Earlier this month, non-medical masks became mandatory for passengers on the TTC. Recently, Toronto City Council approved a new temporary by-law that requires the wearing of a mask or other face covering within enclosed public spaces. Other municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area, including Peel Region have indicated their intention to enact similar rules.

While the new City of Toronto by-law does not apply to post-secondary institutions, the University of Toronto is moving forward with a similar measure that individuals who are in a space in one of our buildings that is normally publicly accessible wear a non-medical mask or face covering. Such spaces may include hallways, lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms, and other common use facilities to which the public normally has access. Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health has advised that this practice is “a necessary, recognized, practical and effective method” to limit the spread of COVID-19 and help protect the safety and well-being of the community. If there are material differences among any requirements that are put in place for University of Toronto Mississauga, members of the community there will be updated at that time.

The new City of Toronto bylaw takes effect on July 7. The new measures at U of T will take effect the same day. U of T will follow the same definition as the City of Toronto by-law, which defines a mask or face covering as a “mask, balaclava, bandana, scarf, cloth or other similar item that covers the nose, mouth and chin without gapping.” The measures would also apply to visitors and contractors in U of T buildings. Relevant signage will be posted.

As previously announced, all faculty, librarians, staff and students will receive two reusable, non-medical masks as part of their return to campus. More information about the distribution of these masks will be provided. Information about the use and care of your U of T non-medical mask can be found at this website.

As is the case with the City of Toronto by-law, the University’s action will be a temporary measure that includes exemptions for specific groups such as those with an underlying medical condition which inhibits their ability to wear a mask, individuals in areas that are not intended for public use, those who are behind a physical barrier and children under the age of two. There is no requirement that individuals who need such an exemption provide proof of the reason.

Masks or face coverings may also be removed when taking part in an athletic or fitness activity or where necessary for purposes of receiving services.

These new measures also should not be interpreted in a way that conflicts with or replaces existing requirements or obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act or other legislation.

Taking steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 is a responsibility we all share in order to protect vulnerable members of our community. Together with your help, U of T is continuing to respond to this global pandemic in many ways, from research, to education, to training the next generation of health care professionals. Using a non-medical mask in indoor spaces that are normally accessible to the public is another way we can do our part.