To mask, or not to mask? For a business, what does reopening mean?

By Sean Delaney

Toronto is now in the Roadmap Exit Step of the Province’s Roadmap to Reopen, and for many small business owners, as well as large corporations, there remains some confusion on just what this means.

Thankfully, the City of Toronto has made several resources available to businesses online and answered some of the most pressing questions business associations are being asked.

“Toronto’s small businesses employ tens of thousands of people and comprise the backbone of our economy. To support them, the City offers an array of grants, incentives, training and other instruments to help small business get started and grow. I encourage small business operators to learn more about these programs, and I urge Torontonians to make a point of patronizing local businesses and restaurants in all neighbourhoods across the City,” Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee said.

Following the Province’s removal of masking requirements in most settings, as of Monday, March 21, masks are no longer required in settings such as retail stores, bars, restaurants, gyms, community centres or museums. Under the new Provincial regulation, masks continue to be required in the indoor areas of certain businesses or organizations, and in a vehicle that is operating as part of the business or organization, including:

• Public transit: Indoor premises and vehicles used for the operation of a public transit service or bus passenger transportation service.

• Hospitals and clinics that provide healthcare services (including vaccination clinics).

• Long-term care and retirement homes.

• Shelters.

The requirement to wear a mask remains subject to exemptions including removing a mask for the purposes of health and safety.

In addition, the City’s Mask Bylaw, which required business and organizations to have a masking policy for enclosed areas that are open to the general public, as well as masking in common areas of apartment buildings and condominiums, also expired on March 21.

And the City’s COVID-19 enforcement team is no longer enforcing the regulations lifted by the Province (for retail stores, bars, restaurants, gyms, community centres or museums) and the expired City bylaws (for enclosed areas open to the general public and common areas of apartment buildings and condominiums).

Businesses may choose to still require their clients to wear masks, however, the continuation of mask requirements and enforcement is now the decision of individual businesses. The City supports the choice by residents to remain masked where masks are not required, should they prefer, even in the absence of regulations requiring mask wearing.

Toronto Public Health offers guidelines for business and community organizations available on the City website. This includes health-related information for businesses and community organizations to open and operate safely.

You can find this information online at:


To help Toronto’s small business owners and operators mitigate and recover from the impacts of COVID-19, the City of Toronto provides resources for businesses in partnership with government and private sector partners.

More information is available at:

Businesses are encouraged to visit this page regularly for resources and support for small businesses in Toronto and subscribe to the BusinessTO newsletter to get the latest information sent straight to their inboxes.

In addition, the City’s online COVID-19: Guide for Residents has been updated to reflect the recent changes to Provincial regulation. It can also be found on the City website, under the COVID-19 tab.

The City launched a business supports campaign last month to help make small business owners and operators more aware of grants, incentives, training and other available resources as they recover from the pandemic.

Small businesses, including restaurants, are encouraged to take advantage of these resources, which include access to one-on-one virtual assistance, COVID-19 guidelines, and links to other financial resources and relief measures.

“Small businesses across our City have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and in an effort to provide them as much support as possible we are launching a campaign that will connect them to the resources that are available to them. Toronto’s small businesses and restaurants are vital to our City’s success, and we know it will take a lot of work from everyone to ensure that they can continue thriving. I encourage small business owners and operators to learn more about these programs and take advantage of them so that we can move forward together and come back stronger than ever,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory.