LONDON, ONT -- City council may wade into the mandated mask debate that has raged online in recent days.

With London about to enter Stage 3 of reopening, the area's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Chris Mackie, is facing criticism about an online exchange with the public.

An online debate began when Mackie's Twitter poll that found 79 per cent of respondents want him to expand mask wearing requirements beyond the short list of high risk locations.

At one point Mackie makes this comparison to mandatory masking:

“Disagree. What if we were talking about involuntary circumcision, which reduces rates of sexually transmitted disease? Or NOT wearing face coverings, as Quebec legislated in order to prevent public servants wearing burkas? Or forced arranged marriages, which some countries allow?”

Mackie later apologized after the tweet was called an example of systemic racism.

Health Board Chair Councillor Maureen Cassidy took notice.

“I spoke to Dr. Mackie today and just gave him my opinion on what I felt is the best way to handle social media in this kind of situation,” said Cassidy adding she suggested he take “a little breather” in regards to his use of Twitter.

With the Medical Officer of Health unwilling to mandate masks indoors at this time, could municipal councils pass by-laws requiring them?

At London city hall the answer is: maybe, stay tuned.

“In the absence of any specific action coming from the Medical Officer of Health, there may be another way to do the same thing,” said Mayor Ed Holder.

He suggests council could direct staff to consult with Mackie about city hall expanding mask requirements.

“My preference would be for the Medical Officer of Health to make that declaration. Interim, we may be able to encourage the Medical Officer of Health to help support any direction we might take,” said Holder.

Holder emphasizes city council has leaned on the advice of public health officials during the pandemic but Friday's broader reopening may force their hand.

“As we move into phase three, the risks become somewhat higher, so you want to do the prudent thing. And I think this council has proven their prudent.”

The first opportunity for city council to discuss expanding mask wearing requirements will come at a meeting on Tuesday.