Calgarians will likely have to wear masks in public places as of Aug. 1.
City council passed first reading of the motion Tuesday night by a vote of 12-3.
Only councillors Sean Chu, Jeromy Farkas, Joe Magliocca vote against the bylaw.
Council will work out final details of the bylaw next Monday.
Farkas said it was “egregious” the province is downloading the responsibility to the municipality and would have rather the order come from chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
He said the bylaw wouldn’t target those now responsible for passing on the virus like attendees at large house parties.
He also said the bylaw should have an ending date.
Chu said the responsibility for masks lies with the provincial government and they should have done it in March.
Magliocca said he didn’t support the bylaw because “we’ve got too much government in people’s lives.”
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the decision was the right one.
“No one takes this decision lightly. Those calling for it are looking at the data and making decisions based on our collective health. We have an opportunity to get this right, and we know this is how to do it,” he tweeted.
Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Tom Sampson said the bylaw is a step to protect Calgarians, their mental health and the economy.
“I would consider it a personal loss if we had to go back to the province and ask to shut businesses,” said Sampson.
The city said under the bylaw business operators or owners are required to display signage in public entryways of the business or vehicle. The City of Calgary will make downloadable signage available to businesses and operators on Calgary.ca/covid19.
Businesses are not expected to deny services as not everyone is required to wear a face covering. Exceptions to the face coverings bylaw include:
- Children under 2 years of age
- People with underlying medical conditions or disabilities inhibiting their ability to wear a face covering
- People who are unable to place, use or remove a face covering safely without assistance
- People who are eating or drinking at a public premises that offers food or beverage services
- People engaging in an athletic or fitness activity
- People who are caregiving for or accompanying a person with a disability where wearing a face covering would hinder the accommodation of the person’s disability
- People who have temporarily removed their face covering where doing so is necessary to provide or receive a service (for example, a visit to the dentist)
“This temporary bylaw should be considered one of our most important tools to keep Calgary open,” says Kay Choi, Manager, Strategic Services, Calgary Community Standards.
“With businesses reopening, more social interactions and the number of cases increasing in Calgary, these additional measures will better mitigate a potential resurgence being experienced around the world. We know that navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for local businesses and a second wave may further exasperate an already challenged economy.”
Hinshaw announced earlier the province has identified 141 new cases of COVID-19 along with 2 more deaths from the virus.
Premier Jason Kenney called the increases in daily cases the last week “troubling” and urged young people to “knock it off” if they aren’t social distancing properly.
Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
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