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:
Effective Aug. 1, masks or face coverings became 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 took effect on Aug. 1.
Shopping malls, entertainment facilities and taxis are all 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 required transit riders to wear face coverings in order to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
On Aug. 24, Lethbridge city council passed a bylaw that will temporarily make face coverings mandatory in all indoor public spaces to help contain the spread of COVID-19.
The bylaw states that a face covering must be worn at all times while in an indoor, enclosed or substantially enclosed public place or public vehicle, including malls, grocery stores, churches and taxis.
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 is 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 took 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 were 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. Masks are also required inside Fountain Park Recreation Centre.
On Aug. 1, Spruce Grove required the use of face coverings on its public transit.
On Aug. 17, Spruce Grove city council approved a temporary mandatory face coverings bylaw, which the city said may be implemented if or when the city reaches the active number of COVID-19 cases that would place it under a “watch” status as determined by the Province of Alberta. Based on the current formula, the city said a “watch” would mean 18 active cases, along with other factors.
On Oct. 23, the face coverings bylaw went into effect at 9 a.m., making it mandatory for members of the public to wear a face covering or mask at all times while in an indoor, enclosed, or substantially enclosed public place or in a public vehicle. A list of exemptions is available online.
Once the “watch” designation is removed, the bylaw will remain active for another 30 days, the city said.
In Strathcona County, east of Edmonton, face coverings were required to be worn on all transit vehicles and in county-owned facilities, effective Aug. 4.
Council also passed a bylaw in August that would see face coverings become mandatory in all indoor public spaces if the municipality reaches 25 active COVID-19 cases or more. On Monday, Oct. 5, the county announced that bylaw was taking effect as the county reached 27 active cases.
On Oct. 27, council announced that the face-covering bylaw would remain in place until March 31, 2021, unless repealed at an earlier date. As of Oct. 27, there were 75 active cases of COVID-19 in the municipality.
In Leduc, all Leduc Transit and LATS users were required to wear masks on board as of Aug. 1.
On Aug. 17, Leduc City Council passed a bylaw that will make face coverings mandatory should Leduc reach a threshold of 10 confirmed active COVID-19 cases.
On Oct. 8, when the city reached 13 active cases, the mandatory mask bylaw took effect.
Face coverings are now mandatory in all indoor publicly accessible spaces and vehicles within the City of Leduc.
This includes retail stores, entertainment venues, recreation centres and vehicles for hire, in addition to city facilities, when utilizing transit and ride-for-hire vehicles.
Business operators can choose whether to deny service to those who do not comply with the bylaw and may also sell or provide face coverings to customers. A number of exemptions are built into the bylaw to accommodate those who are unable to wear a face covering.
On Aug. 10, Beaumont city council approved a bylaw requiring face coverings to be worn in “all publicly-accessible indoor places and public vehicles in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.” The bylaw took effect on Aug. 14 and expires on Oct. 31 unless it is extended by city council.
The bylaw requires people to wear face coverings in city buildings, retail stores, restaurants and most other indoor places that the public can access. Public vehicles include Beaumont Transit, taxis and ride-for-hire services like Uber.
Some people will be exempt from the bylaw, including children under two, people with a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask, people seated in a restaurant or bar, and people engaging in physical activity.
The fine for violating the bylaw is $50 but the City of Beaumont says it is focusing on education instead of enforcement.
On Aug. 7, Fort Saskatchewan city council approved a bylaw that requires people to wear face coverings in indoor public places if the municipality has 10 active COVID-19 cases at any time.
Council also approved making face coverings mandatory inside all city buildings and facilities as of Aug. 10. The city said it will emphasize education “until the practice becomes more routine.”
On Oct. 13, the city posted to its website that its face-covering bylaw was taking effect that day as the municipality reached 15 active cases of COVID-19.
For more information on the bylaw and who is exempt from it, click here.
On Nov. 9 the Town of Cochrane said it was enacting its mask bylaw effective immediately, which mandates face coverings in all indoor public spaces and public vehicles.
There are a number of exceptions to the bylaw, including when eating or drinking at places like restaurants or when doing any kind of physical activity. Children under five, those with medical disabilities or underlying medical conditions and those who are unable to put one on or take one off without help are also exempt from the rules.
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.
The Town of Okotoks passed a bylaw on Aug. 17 making masks mandatory in all indoor municipal spaces as of Aug. 24.
On Oct. 26, when active COVID-19 cases reached 16, the bylaw made masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces in Okotoks.
The bylaw includes restaurants, public vehicles like transit and taxis, entertainment establishments, retail stores, places of worship, gyms, studios, common areas of hotels, medical clinics and offices where the public has access.
The bylaw will be in effect until actives cases are under 15 for 30 consecutive days.
On Aug. 18, Edson town council gave three readings to a bylaw that would come into effect if certain thresholds are met.
Masks or face coverings would become mandatory in Edson if the region reaches more than 10 active cases of COVID-19, a persistent spread of active cases occurs in the community, an outbreak occurs within local schools, or a persistent and active infection rate profile occurs in neighbouring communities such as Hinton, Whitecourt or Evansburg.
“If those triggers are reached, it would move Edson into the Medium Risk category of the bylaw and facial coverings would become mandatory. Other measures would also be reviewed at that time,” read a news release from the town on Aug. 19.
On Aug. 20, Sturgeon County passed a bylaw mandating face coverings in the county’s public spaces, as well as county facilities within the municipality of the Town of Morinville.
The bylaw applies to all indoor or substantially enclosed indoor spaces that are available to the public, whether owned privately or by Sturgeon County. The bylaw also includes public vehicles such as taxis and shuttles.
The county said the bylaw was in response to the area being moved into the province’s “watch” status.
Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
On Oct. 13, councillors in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo voted 7-4 to pass a face-covering bylaw that would see the requirement kick in if the area reaches 50 or more active COVID-19 cases.
The RMWB also tweeted on Oct. 13 that face coverings are mandatory on public transit “across the region.”
On Oct. 26, face coverings became mandatory in all indoor public places. On that date, the region reached 51 active cases of COVID-19.
The bylaw will remain in effect for a minimum of 30 days.
After being placed on “watch” status by Alberta Health Services due to 11 active COVID-19 cases as of Oct. 26, Stony Plain implemented its temporary mandatory mask bylaw on Oct. 27.
The town said people are required to wear a mask in all enclosed, indoor public spaces and public vehicles until further notice.
Officials in the city of Camrose, Alta., have instituted a mandatory face-covering bylaw.
The bylaw went into effect on Nov. 2 and applies to people over the age of 10 in public spaces and civic facilities.
The Town of Whitecourt introduced a mandatory face-covering bylaw on Nov. 17.
The bylaw applies to everyone over the age of five in public spaces and public vehicles.
There are a number of exceptions including schools and education programs, daycares and other childcare facilities, children’s day camps, post-secondary institutions and hospitals, independent health facilities and offices of regulated health professionals.
It also doesn’t apply to anyone who is unable to use or remove a face covering without assistance, someone who is unable to wear a face covering due to mental or physical concern or limitation or protected ground under the Alberta Human Rights Act.
The face coverings can also be removed by someone eating or drinking in a designated seating area or as part of a religious or spiritual ceremony.
Taking part in water activities and physical exercise also exempts someone from wearing a face covering.
The Town of Drumheller mandated face masks on Nov. 23, the same day a state of local emergency was declared in response to rising COVID-19 case numbers in the province.
The mandate applied to all public indoor spaces, the town said.
Red Deer city council voted to approve a bylaw on Nov. 23 requiring people in that city to wear face coverings in all public indoor spaces and in public vehicles. The bylaw takes effect on Nov. 30.
Mayor Tara Veer said whether to require people to wear masks “is a divisive issue” in her community but that city council believes the temporary measure is “critical if we want local case numbers and hospitalization to remain flat.”
Children under nine and people with a disability are exempt from the rule. The fine for not wearing a face covering in the city will be $50 once the bylaw takes effect.
For more information, click here.
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