Windsor council extends city’s mask bylaw amid protest

Windsor council on Monday voted to extend the city’s temporary mask bylaw.

The bylaw had to be voted on immediately as the rule was revoked at 12:01 a.m.

The city’s order to use masks or other face coverings inside public spaces went into effect on Aug 19.

Mayor Drew Dilkens used his power under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

“The vast majority of the public gets it,” says Dilkens. “They’re following the rules, they’re doing everything that’s asked of them which is why I think we see the numbers fairly low in Windsor-Essex which is a good sign.”

It followed a similar order from the Windsor Essex Health Unit in June. However, delegates who spoke on the matter before the vote appealed to councillors not to extend the order.

Ten delegates spoke on the subject Monday afternoon.

“We have ways we know that we can manage this, prevent it have our immune system tuned up, ready to come in contact with it,” says Cheryl Burr.

Some residents questioned the science and the effectiveness of a face covering.

“I’ve seen people putting on their face mask before entering the store to sanitize their hands,” said Greg Aldous.

Aldous also said he’s noticed people continue to reuse disposable masks.

Other delegates felt that wearing a mask was psychologically damaging to young people and others said they felt discriminated against if they were medically exempt.

During the meeting, about 100 "anti-mask" protesters held placards and signs outside of city hall, calling for an end to what they see as a restriction on their civil liberties.

“What we’re seeing is government overreach,” says Rachel Presley. “This is not about a virus anymore.”

However, Dilkens felt it was important to continue the bylaw as case counts continue to rise elsewhere in the province and people are expected to spend more time indoors as the temperature cools further. The mask by-law is expected to remain in place until revoked by city council, and that will likely happen when it’s no longer necessary to address the risk of COVID-19.

“We wanna get rid of the bylaw as soon as practically possible,” says Dilkens. “No one wants to wear a mask if you don’t have to.”

With files from CTV'S Angelo Aversa and John Lewis.