Last updated: July 6, 2020 at 3:45 p.m.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this page is to provide guidance to individuals and businesses on the City’s bylaw requiring the wearing of mask or face coverings in enclosed public spaces, and general guidance on mask use from Toronto Public Health.  This guidance is for information purposes only and should not be relied upon or treated as legal advice. Users seeking legal advice should consult with a qualified legal professional.  

Wearing a mask or face covering will be required in indoor public spaces beginning July 7, 2020 under City of Toronto By-Law 541-2020. The mask or face covering should cover your nose, mouth and chin, without gapping. Wearing a mask or face covering is an additional measure we can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep each other safe. This means that, with some exceptions, all customers or visitors entering an indoor premise are required to wear a mask or face covering while inside.

Learn how to wear a mask or face covering safely.

Summary of Requirements

  • You must create a mask policy for your establishment.
  • You must communicate this new policy to staff and customers.
  • You must train your staff on the policy and who is exempt.
  • All staff, customers or visitors must wear a mask indoors, with some exceptions (e.g. children under the age of two and people with certain health conditions, employees in designated areas or protected by a physical barrier).
  • Proof is not required if someone has an exemption.
  • Signs must be posted at all entrances reminding everyone to wear a mask.

The mask bylaw has a set fine of $1,000 for each offence.

Businesses & Establishments that Must Follow the Bylaw

The bylaw applies to indoor spaces that are openly accessible to the public. See sample list:

  • retail stores
  • convenience stores
  • malls, shopping plazas
  • grocery stores, bakeries
  • farmer’s markets (indoor sections)
  • restaurants, bars* (indoors, when permitted to open)
  • indoor recreational facilities, gyms, swimming pools** (when permitted to open)
  • libraries
  • community centres
  • day camp activities taking place in indoor facilities open to the public
  • community service agencies
  • personal service settings
  • churches, mosque, synagogue, temples and other faith settings
  • art galleries, museums, aquariums, zoos
  • banquet halls, convention centres, arenas, stadiums, and other event spaces
  • open houses and presentation centres for real estate purposes
  • common areas in hotels, motels and short-term rentals (e.g. lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms)
  • entertainment facilities including concert venues, theatres, cinemas, casinos

*The bylaw allows for temporary removal of a mask or face covering when receiving services (such as having a meal) or while actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity.

**Except when engaging in a fitness activity (e.g. swimming) that would make wearing a mask difficult or hazardous.

Businesses that are Exempt from this Bylaw

The bylaw does not apply to the following premises, even if they would fall under the definition of an establishment:

  • schools
  • post-secondary institutions
  • child care facilities
  • private and public transportation (the TTC has its own bylaw)
  • hospitals, independent health facilities
  • offices of regulated health professionals
  • apartment buildings and condominiums, including their common areas
  • an area that is not enclosed or indoors (e.g. restaurant patio)

People Who Do Not Have to Wear a Mask or Face Covering

  • Children under the age of two. These very young children must not wear a face covering because of the risk of suffocation.
  • Individuals with a medical condition that makes it difficult to wear a mask. This can include but is not limited to:
    • Medical condition, mental health condition, cognitive condition or disability that prevents wearing a mask or face covering.
    • Medical condition that makes it difficult to breath or someone who is unconscious or incapacitated.
    • People who are hearing impaired, or are communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, and where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Individuals who are unable to put on or remove a mask without assistance.
  • Employees and businesses not open to the public.
  • People who require accommodation in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code.
  • Employees within an area designated for them and not for public access, or within or behind a physical barrier.

Note: Businesses are not permitted to require proof that an exemption applies.

Areas Where Customers Must Wear a Mask or Face Covering

A mask or face covering is required when entering the premise, and for the duration of their time inside. The mask or face covering must be worn in any enclosed area that is openly accessible to the public, and for the purpose of offering goods and services.

Examples of establishments Where a mask or face covering is required
Where a mask or face covering is not required
Retail stores
  • Retail floor/aisles
  • Cashier area/queues
  • Service desks/counters
  • Publicly accessible washrooms
  • Staff lounge
  • Stock / storage room
  • Workshop / service area
  • Private office
  • Shipping / receiving area
  • Outdoor patios
  • Display areas that is part of the retail space (e.g. outdoor garden centre)
  • Line-ups to enter store
Restaurants/bars
  • Indoor takeout counters
  • Indoor dining area (when permitted to open)
  • Indoor food preparation areas that is open to the public
  • Outdoor drive-thru windows
  • Outdoor dining area
  • Kitchen that is physically separated from the dining area and not accessible to the public
  • Staff lounge / private office
  • Shipping / receiving area not open to the public
Malls/plazas
  • Indoor areas open to the public
  • Outdoor areas open to the public
  • Administrative offices, service areas or other areas not open to the public
Farmers’ market
  • Indoor areas open to the public
  • Outdoor areas
  • Areas not open to the public

Providing Service to People Unable to Wear a Mask or Face Covering

  • Not everyone is able to wear a mask. Please be respectful of people who are unable to wear one due to health, age or other reasons.
  • Also consider offering alternative services (e.g. online, telephone, curbside pickup) or offer off-peak hour service.

Use of Non-Medical Masks in Workplaces

Non-medical masks or face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE), and may not be suitable for occupational health and safety purposes. Employers and employees should consult and follow their Occupational Health and Safety guidelines to ensure that measures that are appropriate to their particular work setting are followed. If PPE is not required, employees are required to wear a mask or face covering in enclosed public spaces, with some exceptions such as employees working in an area designated for them and not for public access, or within or behind a physical barrier.

A face shield is not an alternative to a mask. Learn more about masks or face coverings.

Sample Policy & Checklist for Businesses & Organizations

Read Toronto Public Health’s Guidance on the Mask and Face Covering Bylaw, including a sample policy and checklist for businesses and organizations.

Resources:

What the Bylaw Means for You

  • You must wear a mask or face covering when you are in indoor public spaces.
  • The mask or face covering should cover your nose, mouth and chin, without gapping.
  • Follow the mask policy of the business you are visiting.
  • Exemptions are allowed. You do not need to bring proof of your exemption.
  • Be respectful as businesses adopt new policies to protect all of us from COVID-19.

Learn how to wear a mask or face covering safely.

Resource: