Calgary could be joining other major cities in Canada by making masks mandatory in indoor public places.
As the advice on wearing non-medical masks continues to change, the mayor isn’t ruling anything out.
“Our level of mask-wearing in Calgary — in stores and public transit, in particular — is way too low, and I’ve been pushing saying, ‘You got to do it. You got to do it,’ and people aren’t doing it,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi on Tuesday.
If more Calgarians don’t mask up, the mayor said he is willing to ask council to look into making it law at the next meeting, July 20.
“If people are doing the right thing without the bylaw, great — we’re not seeing a lot of evidence of that,” Nenshi said.
“It is not at all lost on me that Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and the cities around Toronto all have mask mandates now, and if that’s something we need to examine, then that’s something I’m very happy to bring forward to council.”
The Calgary Emergency Management Agency said it’s reviewing the Toronto bylaw along with other options to keep Calgarians safe.
Though Alberta Health Services strongly advises wearing masks in public and crowded places, Alberta Health doubled down Tuesday, saying it won’t be making it an Alberta-wide law.
“We strongly recommend distancing and use of masks where distancing is not possible,” the province said in a statement.
“The evidence on COVID is evolving and our public health experts are following it closely as are those across Canada. Our policy is informed by our actual experience; we’ve been successful in containing COVID-19 with our existing guidance because Albertans are following it.”
‘An added layer’
A group of front-line doctors is calling for mandatory mask-use.
“We need the public to have clear messaging that masks are an added layer on top of the public health measures of hand hygiene and distancing to protect the economy and protect our communities as we start interacting more,” said Calgary Dr. Amy Tan with Masks4Canada, which is advocating for masks in all indoor spaces, in crowds and on public transit.
She said 80 per cent of the public needs to wear a mask. That benchmark is important because it will significantly reduce transmission of coronavirus in the community and allows for 20 per cent to opt out safely — kids younger than two and people with severe lung disease, for example.
“I would like that action to be done sooner rather than later because time is of the essence,” Tan said.
“We are still seeing cases creep up, even though we are in a bit of a lull, and we need to manage this and stay on top of this to mitigate whatever the second wave that we would anticipate could look like.”
Tan said mask use is something to be taken seriously.
“We were able to flatten the curve this time around, that’s great. But we need to continue to remain vigilant. The spread of coronavirus and the threat of that spread is still prevalent and is still present, and so as people start to mingle, it’s harder,” she said.
“We’re social beings so let’s add a mask to that.”
– With files from Global News’ Lauren Pullen