A number of municipalities in Alberta have passed bylaws making masks or face coverings mandatory in all indoor public spaces, on public transit and in some cases, even outdoor spaces.
The rules vary by region, as the province has left it up to each individual municipality to set their own regulations. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health has said for months that she strongly recommends people wear masks when two metres of physical distance cannot be maintained.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw said wearing a mask can help limit the spread of the coronavirus, and should be done alongside other health measures including good hand hygiene, physical distancing and staying home when sick.
Here’s a look at the mandatory mask rules broken down by region (as they were known as of July 31):
Effective Aug. 1, masks or face coverings will be mandatory in all public indoor spaces, on public transit and vehicles for hire. This applies to all indoor public spaces such as retail stores, grocery stores, entertainment venues, recreation centres, restaurants and transit stations.
Face coverings can be removed when eating or drinking in a designated seating area, when taking part in a religious or spiritual ceremony or when engaged in water activities or physical exercise.
The fine for breaking the bylaw is $100, but the city says it will focus on education rather than enforcement.
There are a number of exceptions to the bylaw, including those under the age of two, those who cannot put on and take off the mask without assistance and those with mental or physical concerns or limitations. Schools, hospitals and health-care facilities, child-care facilities and employee-only spaces where physical barriers have been installed between employees and patrons are also exempt.
Calgary’s bylaw is similar to Edmonton’s and mandates masks in all indoor public spaces and public vehicles, including on public transit. The bylaw comes into effect on Aug. 1.
Shopping malls, entertainment facilities and taxis are all be part of the new bylaw, however, private spaces such as schools, daycares and private residences are exempt from the mask mandate.
Those under the age of two, people with underlying medical conditions or disabilities inhibiting their ability to wear a face covering and people who are unable to place, use or remove a face covering safely without assistance are also exempt.
The fine for breaking Calgary’s bylaw is $50.
Beginning Aug. 4, the City of Lethbridge will require transit riders to wear face coverings in order to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
Council also voted in favour of asking the city manager to implement mandatory masks in public areas of all City of Lethbridge facilities as soon as practicable, and be directed to prepare appropriate legislation, no later than Aug. 10, mandating the mandatory use of masks city-wide should it be required.
Banff’s mandatory mask bylaw is perhaps the strictest in Alberta, and includes a popular stretch of outdoor space.
Effective July 31, everyone in the mountain town will be required to wear a mask in all enclosed public spaces like shops, cafés and facilities, as well as outside along downtown Banff’s pedestrian zone. Two blocks of Banff Avenue — the town’s main drag — have been closed to vehicle use since June to allow for physical distancing. This is the stretch where masks will be mandatory.
There are some exceptions to Banff’s mandatory mask bylaw, including children under the age of two, those with medical conditions that prevent safe masking and those who cannot put on or remove their mask without assistance.
The fine for breaking Banff’s bylaw is $150.
A mandatory mask bylaw will go into effect in Canmore at noon on Friday, Aug. 7.
The bylaw includes public transit, vehicles for hire (such as taxis and shuttles), public spaces (such as malls, retail businesses, churches and grocery stores) and Town of Canmore facilities (including the Civic Centre, Canmore Recreation Centre and Elevation Place).
The Town of Canmore notes on its website that while the number of COVID-19 cases in the mountain community remains very low, the number of active cases in Alberta is rising and there has been a “noticeable increase” in visitors to the town since the launch of Stage 1 of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy.
Following the Aug. 5 municipal council meeting, masks are now required on Jasper’s downtown sidewalks, any public sidewalk where a two-metre distance can’t be maintained and in all public indoor spaces.
The bylaw includes:
- the west side of Connaught Drive between Hazel Avenue and Aspen Avenue
- Patricia Street between Hazel Avenue and Pyramid Lake Road
- all connecting public sidewalks between the above streets
Children under two, people who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition and people eating in restaurants while at assigned seating are exempt from the bylaw. In a Facebook post, the municipality stated it would be working with businesses to ensure expectations are communicated clearly and to update signage. Enforcement will be the responsibility of its bylaw department.
St. Albert city council passed a bylaw requiring face coverings inside public spaces on Tuesday, Aug. 4. Masks or face coverings will be mandatory beginning on Aug. 8. As of Aug. 1, people in St. Albert had already been required to wear face coverings on St. Albert Transit and inside city facilities that provide services to the public, including St. Albert Place, Servus Place and St. Albert Public Library. The city’s residents were also told that masks would be required inside Fountain Park Recreation Centre when it reopens on Aug. 4.
Also Aug. 1, Spruce Grove will require the use of face coverings on its public transit. The Spruce Grove emergency management agency continues to monitor the situation regarding the use of face coverings in other situations but no further decisions have been made.
In Strathcona County, east of Edmonton, face coverings will be required to be worn on all transit vehicles and in county-owned facilities beginning Aug. 4.
In Leduc, all Leduc Transit and LATS users will be required to wear masks on board beginning Aug. 1.
Masks are already required in Chestermere when an employee and client must be within two metres of each other for the service provided.
While Cochrane has not yet mandated masks yet, town council decided on July 29 that face coverings would be required if the town reaches 10 active cases of COVID-19. The mandate would be rescinded when active case numbers drop below 10 for 14 consecutive days.
The City of Airdrie has made a similar move to Cochrane. While councillors voted against a mandatory mask bylaw on July 28, the city said a bylaw would be triggered if the city enters an “enhanced” status – or requires increased public health measures.
According to Alberta Health, to date, there have been no areas ever moved to “enhanced” status.
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