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Town of Claresholm votes against mask bylaw in 5-2 vote

The town of Claresholm voted against a mask bylaw. Adam MacVicar / Global News

After a lengthy debate during a special meeting Monday night, Claresholm’s town council voted against proposed bylaw #1712, the Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw.

Instead, the town is strongly encouraging everyone, who is able, to wear a mask to protect others.

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“With the increase of COVID-19 cases in the Town of Claresholm, Town Council is extremely concerned about the health and well-being of our residents and visitors,” read a release sent out by the mayor of Claresholm, Doug MacPherson.

The bylaw was voted down by a 5-2 vote with enforcement as a big issue, according MacPherson, who voted in favour of the bylaw.

In an interview with Global News on Tuesday, he said the town is understaffed when it comes to bylaw officers. MacPherson also said if cases rise drastically, council may revisit the issue.

“It falls on each individual to act responsibly in order to protect yourself and those around you,” the release goes on to state.

Masks are still required for anyone who enters the Claresholm Arena and Claresholm Aquatic Centre, because physical distancing is difficult in these areas.

“Although the increase in the number of cases is concerning, there is no reason why our community cannot be diligent in our daily activities and work hard to lower our numbers back to zero active cases,” the release reads.

Read more: Lethbridge becomes latest city to pass mandatory masking bylaw

McPherson adds the decision came down to personal choice, and with many residents already choosing to wear masks, he’s not disappointed by the outcome.

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“We’re going to proceed with an approach with more education and start advertising the need to wear masks,” MacPherson said.

Read more: ‘Rolling the dice’: Why are some Albertans ignoring COVID-19 rules as cases rise?

“It’s still a personal choice, but it’s still the right choice,” he added.

“There’s a lot of residents who are automatically switching over, and using masks, you see it a lot in the grocery stores and restaurants,” MacPherson said.

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