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COVID-19: Calgary Transit drivers raise concerns about mandatory mask bylaw

Calgary’s temporary face-covering bylaw takes effect Saturday
WATCH: Starting Saturday, masks will be mandatory at indoor public spaces in Calgary. As Jenna Freeman reports, the city is focusing on educating the public rather than enforcing the bylaw.

The long weekend has arrived and Calgary’s mandatory mask bylaw is set to take effect on Aug. 1.

Refusing to wear a mask could see people get fined.

Businesses will be mandated to post sufficient signage provided by the city and failing to do so properly could also result in a fine.

Read more: COVID-19: Calgary prepares for mandatory mask bylaw to take effect

Duty Inspector with Calgary Community Standards, Brad Johnson, said Friday that the focus will be to educate Calgarians about the effectiveness of wearing a mask.

“It’s important to understand that not everyone will be capable of wearing a mask,” Johnson explained. “So there’s a lot of sensitivity around this that we have to be aware of in the city.”

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Transit and Peace Officers will also be carrying additional masks for people who don’t have them.

“We’re trying to stop the spread [of the novel coronavirus],” Johnson said. “People can access these places and we can keep operating.”

But transit drivers are voicing confusion and concern around the regulations and who would be responsible for distributing masks and denying service to riders who aren’t wearing them.

Read more: Coronavirus: Calgary city council approves mandatory masks indoors​, on transit

“We want to have as little interaction with the public as possible,” said Mike Mahar, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 583.

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Mahar said the union has clarified with the City of Calgary that transit drivers will not be distributing masks and will not be enforcing the bylaw.

Calgary bylaw officers prepare to educate citizens over mandatory mask requirement
Calgary bylaw officers prepare to educate citizens over mandatory mask requirement

The City of Calgary said Friday that 500,000 free masks will be available at recreation centres in the city and at some transit stations in the morning hours in order to make them as accessible as possible to all Calgarians.

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COVID-19: Doctors say wearing masks in crowded outdoor spaces helps prevent spread of coronavirus
COVID-19: Doctors say wearing masks in crowded outdoor spaces helps prevent spread of coronavirus

— With files from Global News’ Jenna Freeman