City council set to debate expiration of face covering bylaw

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The regulation first came into effect on August 31, 2020 and is currently set to expire in December

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Calgary city council is due to debate on Monday whether the local face covering bylaw will be repealed when provincial rules are lifted on July 1 or extend the local requirement until at least the end of next month.

Alberta will lift the provincial requirement for the public to wear masks when it enters Stage 3 of its plan to reopen on Canada Day. However, people may still be required to cover their faces indoors in Calgary if councilors vote to accept the city administration’s recommendation to maintain the bylaw until July 31 as long as the number of cases and rates continue. vaccination programs “are moving in the right direction”.

A report due to be presented to council on Monday recommends keeping local regulations in place for an additional month to ensure there is no spike in cases after the province removes most major health measures public on Canada Day. The administration says maintaining mask requirements will give more time for the number of cases to decline and allow more Calgarians to receive the first and second doses of the vaccine.

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“Maintaining Calgary’s face covering regulation until July 31, 2021 when it reopens, matches comments heard in our COVID-19 survey that 80% of Calgarians feel more confident to visit businesses and participate. to public activities because of the regulation, ”the report reads. .

The regulation came into effect on August 31, 2020 and is currently scheduled to expire in December. It requires anyone without exemption to wear a mask on transit, indoor public spaces, rental vehicles, and all City of Calgary facilities. Failure to do so can result in fines of up to $ 500.

The administration presented four options for the regulation: withdraw it on July 1, withdraw it on July 31, wait until 75% of Calgarians are fully vaccinated, or not change the regulation, thus extending it until the end of the year.

Ward 12 Council. Shane Keating said council needs to have a serious discussion about masking, but noted that it leans towards tying city bylaw with provincial mask regulations.

“As much as we want to be protective and careful, if there is too much of a gap and difference between cities or across the province, then I think it leads to confusion and difficulty,” Keating said.

District 1 Council. Ward Sutherland has said he and his colleagues on the board are not doctors, so he will follow the advice of the province’s chief medical officer, Dr Deena Hinshaw. She has shown her support at the provincial level on several occasions.

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He noted that he had heard from many Calgarians on both sides of the debate.

“I think what’s important is the vaccination, and then if people want to keep wearing masks, then go ahead and wear masks,” Sutherland said. “People shouldn’t shame anyone, and there may be circumstances where it may make sense to have masks. “

He said it might make sense to maintain a mask requirement in smaller, closed places such as public transport for a longer period of time, but said that would be part of the debate.

Calgarians use the CTrain in downtown Calgary on Sunday, June 20, 2021. Council will consider when to lift the current mandatory mask regulation this summer.
Calgarians use the CTrain in downtown Calgary on Sunday, June 20, 2021. Council will consider when to lift the current mandatory mask regulation this summer. Photo by Gavin Young / Postmedia

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said on Thursday he could not provide more details on the mask regulation until he met with the expert panel of doctors and other city experts. He said the board will have a “good discussion” on Monday about their options.

He previously said he wanted to follow the science and the best advice on when to remove masking requirements in the city. Speaking to the media on June 11, after receiving his second vaccine, he reminded everyone that the city implemented its bylaw before the province made face covering mandatory.

The city’s latest figures released on June 17 show that there have been 538 tickets issued for non-compliance since August 31, 2020. Of these tickets, 20 have been issued since June 8.

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Twitter: @dylanshort_

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