The City of Lethbridge is now requiring staff and visitors to wear a face covering when entering its public facilities, although it won’t be turning anyone away or fining them if they refuse.
“It’s really not around getting into altercations or disagreements with people or refusal or service,” said recreation and culture manager Robin Harper. “It’s more of an education piece where we’re trying to educate the public on why wearing a mask is important.”
As a catalyst for the decision, the city says it is following guidance from public health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the chief public health officer of Canada and the chief medical officer of health for Alberta, who continue to strongly recommend the wearing of face coverings to limit the spread of COVID-19 where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
On Friday, more than a dozen facilities began the mandate, including:
- city hall
- Galt Museum
- Fort Whoop Up
- Helen Schuler Nature Centre
- Lethbridge Regional Park ‘n’ Ride Transit Terminal
- Lethbridge Airport Terminal
- Lethbridge Public Library (Downtown and Crossings branches)
- ice arenas
- cemetery office
The city recommends checking in with swimming pools, CASA, the Lethbridge Animal Shelter, the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, the Multicultural Centre and the Cor Van Raay YMCA before attending to find out their individual masking policies
All aforementioned facilities have been provided with disposable masks, but Harper says they strongly encourage the public to get in the habit of bringing their own.
Children under two years old won’t be required to wear them, nor will individuals who can’t remove or place the coverings on by themselves.
This requirement comes after masks were mandated on Lethbridge Transit for all riders on Aug. 4.
Those participating in physical activity at city-owned facilities won’t be required to wear a face covering while doing so, but rather just in certain spaces.
“Once they get past the into the physical activity spaces, the aquatic spaces, they won’t be required to wear a mask,” Harper said.
Graham Ruttan with the Galt Museum and Fort Whoop Up says the first day following the requirement went quite smoothly.
“It’s been really good,” Ruttan said. “Visitors we’ve had coming in to both sites have been wearing masks.”
Masks will also be mandatory for Grade 4-12 students returning to class in the fall, as announced by the province earlier this week.
Some say Friday’s mandate in Lethbridge may provide the opportunity for parents and their kids to prepare.
Lethbridge city council will be discussing a possible first reading of a bylaw to mandate face masks in all public spaces when councillors meet next Monday.View link »