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Alberta’s free COVID-19 mask program comes to an end

Coronavirus: Aug. 1 marks Day 1 of Calgary’s mandatory mask bylaw
WATCH ABOVE: On Saturday, Calgary’s mandatory mask bylaw came into effect. As Michael King reports, most Calgarians seem to be following the new rules.

The provincial non-medical mask distribution program has come to an end, Alberta’s government said Monday.

In a news release, the province said that as part of its Stage 2 COVID-19 relaunch, 40 million non-medical masks were distributed to Albertans — more than half at A&W, McDonald’s Canada and Tim Hortons locations.

The masks were distributed at the restaurants in two phases — the first in a period that ran from June 8 until June 22, and the second from July 13 to Aug. 2.

The government also gave masks out to community partners like transit services, First Nations, long-term care centres and places of worship. According to information released Monday, the program allowed the government to save about $35 million in packaging, shipping and distribution costs.

Read more: Mixed reaction to Edmonton’s mandatory mask bylaw on Day 1

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“I want to thank our corporate partners, A&W, McDonald’s Canada and Tim Hortons, for their tremendous support and contribution in making this program a success,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in the release. “Through this program, we helped kick-start individuals’ efforts to acquire masks as the supply chain caught up with demand.

“We want to thank all Albertans who took part in this program, and those who continue to do their civic duty by washing their hands, practising physical distancing and wearing a mask when they can’t physically distance.”

Read more: COVID-19: Here’s where you have to wear a mask in Alberta

The program officially concluded on Sunday, Aug. 2. The government said there is no plan going forward to distribute any more.

The provincial chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, has said wearing a mask can help limit the spread of the coronavirus. Calgary and Edmonton have both recently put into place bylaws that mandate masks in all indoor public places and on transit. Other municipalities around the province have also put into place rules around face coverings. 

Albertans can find instructions for care and use of non-medical masks online.