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In Canada, Montreal moves to make masks obligatory in public places

Montreal is going to require masks in all indoor public places such as stores, restaurants, bars and sports facilities
Montreal is going to require masks in all indoor public places such as stores, restaurants, bars and sports facilities Sebastien St-Jean AFP/File
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Montreal (AFP)

The Canadian city of Montreal, one of the country's virus hotspots, will make wearing face masks in indoor public places mandatory in the coming weeks, Mayor Valerie Plante said Monday.

Montreal, Canada's second-largest city, follows in the footsteps of Toronto and the capital Ottawa, where masks will be obligatory from Tuesday.

Plante said the move, to come into effect from July 27, was in response to the "emergence of some outbreaks in the suburbs... which could undermine the efforts we have been making since the beginning of this pandemic."

The measure will apply to shops, sports facilities, bars and restaurants, she said.

Last week, Quebec's provincial government said masks would be mandatory on public transport from July 13.

Plante said that some business owners had struggled "in ensuring that the rules of hygiene and distancing are respected in their establishments."

"For many, a loosening leading to eventual reconfinement would simply mean putting the key under the door," she said in a statement.

"A setback would be a disaster for human lives and for our economy."

Plante said there would be a grace period so everyone could be prepared, but warned that she would not hesitate to "crack down on offenders in the long run."

Quebec accounts for more than half of Canada's roughly 105,000 coronavirus cases, and nearly two-thirds of the 8,700 deaths -- most of them in the greater Montreal area.

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