Masks were still a very familiar sight in various parts of the city on Monday – even as the province lifted face-to-face mandates for most public spaces. From schools, to shops, to libraries, it was clear that many in Toronto were not yet ready to give them up. The star checked into several places in the city to see who was masking and who was not.
Toronto City Hall, at 9.00
15% masked, 85% masked
The rotunda, which reopened to the public on Monday as telecommuting city staff returned to offices in the arched towers, was a sea of masks with notable exceptions. Mayor John Tory, Mayor Chris Murray and city spokesman Brad Ross were all exposed at a news conference announcing City Hall’s full reopening. More members of the public are expected on Tuesday when the personal committee meetings resume without requiring participants to be masked or vaccinated.
Union Station, at 9.30
2 people masked, 30 masked
Union Station is one of the few thresholds in Toronto where people can cross between a forced masking area and one with no masking requirements. At TTC, masks are still officially mandatory, but they are no longer required in the non-transit-related areas of Union Station. The vast majority of people, however, kept them on while inside.
Eaton Center North Entrance, 10:15 p.m.
4 masked, 10 masked
Despite being outdoors, where fresh air circulation reduces the risk of COVID infection, most people still walked, stood or sat around while wearing masks.
Ontario Legislature, 10:30 p.m.
A mixture of masked and unmasked
During the daily question period, 16 progressive conservative MPPs were masked, including a trained nurse and another as a doctor, and twice as many were masked. New democratic and liberal MPPs were masked except when they got up to speak. In scrums with NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Liberal House leader John Fraser afterwards, all but two journalists were masked while the two politicians took their time off to answer questions. Both the NDP and liberal caucus said they agreed to continue wearing masks. There was a mix of masked and unmasked law enforcement security officers and law enforcement personnel in the building. Everyone who enters is faced with six screening questions, such as whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or have anyone in their household tested positive for the virus.
Senator O’Connor College School, Class 11 English class, 10:50 p.m.
2 masked, 16 masked
Students talk about mask mandate lifting, but there is no tension between those with different views. About an hour and a half later, in the cafeteria, more than half of the approximately 100 students are unmasked. It used to be that masks could only be taken off while eating. But now lots of teenagers who do not eat are chatting with friends, their masks pulled down under the chin.
Eaton Center, 11:30 p.m.
1 masked, 20 masked
Most shoppers chose to wear masks inside the Eaton Center. However, all the security guards Stjernen saw were unmasked.
Toronto Reference Library, 12:15 p.m.
10 masked, hundreds masked
Only staff at the Toronto Reference Library were required to wear masks. Everyone else in the building could freely do as they pleased with regard to face covering. The overwhelming majority chose to mask.
Earl Haig Secondary School, Class 12 Chemistry, 12:20 p.m.
1 masked, 22 masked
The day started with a message from the principal reminding everyone to respect individual choices about masking. And that’s what happened. Even the only masked student – he wore a face mask when he could not physically distance himself from others – received no ugly comments or glances all day.
Yonge and Bloor 12:45
5 masked, 5 masked
Outside, on the corner of Yonge and Bloor, there was parity between the number of masked and unmasked people on Monday afternoon. Can not be distinguished from any other Monday afternoon there.
LCBO, Liberty Village, at 13.10
8 masked, 24 masked
At LCBO on Hanna Avenue, signs calling for indoor masks remained plastered on shop windows. The vast majority of customers chose to continue the masking.
The Market by Longo’s, 1 p.m.
3 masked, 10 masked
At Longo’s grocery store near Yonge and Bloor, about two-thirds of the merchants were masked and most of the staff.
Only one person was in Rabba on Isabella Street when the Star visited. He was unaware that the mask mandate was over, but after being informed, he said he would continue to wear his mask regardless as he felt safer and more comfortable with it on. A store employee was also masked.
Shoppers Drug Mart, at 14.00
2 masked, 20 masked
The vast majority of customers at Shoppers on Yonge and Charles were wearing masks. A woman who told Star that she had not seen any unmasked people all day.
GoodLife Fitness, Liberty Village, at 14.00
32 masked, 12 masked
For most GoodLife Fitness members in Liberty Village, the removal of the mask mandate seemed to be well received, with many having a workout bag but leaving their face clothing at home. From 2pm to 2.30pm, 32 people came in without a mask, while 12 came in with one. “There’s a little bit of nervousness here and there,” but for the most part, gym member Jordan Alfonsi said the removal of the mask mandate makes sense to him, especially in a fitness environment where people still remove their masks while exercising. “It’s nice not to worry. If there are consequences, we’ll deal with them.” Two other members who entered the gym wearing masks were unaware that the mandates were lifted on Monday.
LOCAL Public Eatery, Liberty Village, at. 14.50
11 masked, 5 masked
An employee told Star that late in the afternoon he had seen a healthy mix of masked and unmasked patrons. Monday’s new rules brought only minor changes to restaurants – people were already allowed to remove masks while eating and drinking, but had to wear them when going into the store or going to the toilet. The star count was for people sitting inside and did not include a healthy number of people on the terrace – where masks were not required before.
From Star staff with additional files from Evan Woo and Stephanie De Castro