It’s hard to believe we are approaching the one-year mark since the COVID-19 coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Public Health agencies around the world, including Canada, Ontario and Toronto Public Health, laid out guidelines for our protection and to stop the spread of the virus. For the most part, Ontarians have followed these directives to wash hands, stay 6 feet (2 metres) apart, to wear masks indoors in public spaces and outside when it’s not possible to keep a safe distance.
However, some condominium residents are not wearing masks indoors in the common areas of their buildings. The common areas include lobbies and elevators. In fact, the City of Toronto revealed it has received close to 2,000 complaints through its 311 service.
When the City of Toronto implemented a municipal mask bylaw for indoor establishments in July 2020, condominium residences were not on the list. Businesses were the main focus. Shortly thereafter, condominiums were inserted in the bylaw and masks were mandatory in all indoor spaces. At the time Mayor Tory said there would not be strict enforcement of the bylaw in residences. In October 2020, it became mandatory province-wide.
The regulation and bylaws, however, do not outline charges or fines for an individual who chooses to not wear a mask in the common areas of a condominium.
Some condominiums have implemented their own protocols for indoor mask wearing to ensure the health and safety of residents and service providers, including ensuring compliance by residents with mandatory mask policies. This is laudable. Some condominiums are also going a step further and are ensuring non-essential visitors do not attend during the provincial stay-at-home orders.
While there may be no charges or fines from the City for failing to wear a mask, that’s not a valid reason to ignore mask wearing in your condominium’s common areas. Further, the condominium corporation may consider taking its own enforcement steps (including management letters and legal enforcement letters) against owners and residents who refuse to wear masks. The failure to wear a mask does expose residents and service providers to risks associated with COVID-19, and in our view, would constitute a breach of the corporation’s governing documents, including section 117 of the Condominium Act.
All those who are not exempt must wear a mask. It’s good for your health and the health of your condominium community.
Disclaimer: This blog post is a short summary of a complex legal matter. Always obtain legal advice from your corporation’s solicitor.