Coronavirus: Saskatoon considering making face masks mandatory

A woman wears a face mask as she walks along a street in Montreal, Saturday, July 11, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

The City of Saskatoon is in the early stages of making face masks mandatory.

In Monday’s city council meeting, city officials told councillors they are preparing reports on whether people should be required to wear masks in the city to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s definitely time to start taking the next steps, especially with the numbers we’re seeing in the province now, and it’s not even flu season,” city manager Jeff Jorgenson said, in response to questions from councillors.

Read more: Coronavirus: University of Alberta study finds growing public support for face masks

He explained there are two legislative areas at which the administration is looking and that determinations will be made based on where physical distancing can and cannot be maintained.

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The first is within city-owned buildings and city-run services, like buses — for which he said a plan will be needed by late 2020 or early 2021.

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The second is in within privately owned buildings and services.

“(Other municipalities in North America) are going past civic facilities and services and… mandating masks in other areas, even on businesses or that type of thing,” he said.

Read more: City of Saskatoon unveils new vehicles to keep workers safer following accidents

“That is the kind of thing we’re actively working on now,” he added, explaining officials are examining their legislative ability to implement such bylaws.

“We are currently working on an overall understanding in each of our locations of what that would look like… it is something we are definitely working on at this point,” Pamela Goulden-McLeod, the director of emergency planning, said.

The queries came during the start of the council meeting from Councillors Cynthia Block and Bev Dubois, the latter of whom said she heard from many residents on the issue.

Masks are not currently mandatory in the city or the province, though the provincial and federal chief health officers have recommended people wear them.

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