Ontario premier agrees with mandatory masks but says it's impossible to enforce
TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford says that while he agrees with making masks mandatory, it would not be possible to enforce the rule across the entire province.
The premier made the comments at a news conference on Friday, after Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti moved to make masks mandatory for people venturing outdoors in his region.
“I have talked to Mayor Scarpitti about this and the chief medical officer of health for York Region. That’s their choice,” Ford told reporters. “If the community, the mayor and everyone wants to do that [then] good luck to them. I don’t disagree.”
The premier rejected calls from Scarpitti last week to make wearing masks mandatory in public spaces across the province. The Markham mayor, whose region borders Toronto, expressed concern that the province could see a spike in cases if such rules are not followed.
In response, Ford said the province does not have the “manpower for bylaw and police officers to be chasing people without masks.” Instead, he said, people need to be encouraged to wear masks.
“You just can’t enforce it. [If] you go up the rural areas, way up north, and there are no cases, as much as we can tell them to wear masks, they aren’t wearing masks,” Ford said on Friday. “I encourage everyone but we just can’t enforce it, that the problem here.”
“Again, that’s up to the local chief medical officer. If they want to do it then God bless them, all the power to them. I think it’s a good thing when you are out in public, wear a mask, wear a face covering.”
Several American states, including California, Michigan, New York, Maine, Delaware and Maryland, have issued orders that make wearing a mask mandatory in certain public spaces. The Mayor of Kingston Bryan Paterson announced Friday that masks will now be mandatory his region in indoor settings.
Markham Mayor Scarpitti announced Thursday that he plans to table the possibility of making masks mandatory in York Region at the next regional council meeting on July 9, saying that it’s an important step to prevent a second wave.
The order would ensure that all people in the region would have to wear masks in indoor spaces and in crowded outdoor spaces where physical distancing is not possible.
“We need to make sure there is confidence in the market place. That people actually do feel comfortable to go out and to shop and perhaps to enjoy, for now, the outdoors patios,” the mayor told CTV News Toronto on Thursday.
"We cannot afford to our guard down until a vaccine is found. As the economy continues to reopen, we should guard against any false sense of security. The pandemic is not over and the threat of a second wave is a real possibility."