Coronavirus: Edmonton extends mandatory mask bylaw until December 2021

A shopper wearing a mask buys groceries at a sparse farmers market in Edmonton on Sunday March 22, 2020. Jason Franson, The Canadian Press

Edmonton city council has voted to extend its mandatory face covering bylaw until Dec. 31, 2021. The bylaw can be rescinded if needed.

The extension passed in a vote of 12 to one.

Coun. Mike Nickel was the only councillor to vote no. When the city’s face covering bylaw was first passed, Nickel, Tony Caterina and Jon Dziadyk voted against it.

The bylaw that councillors looked at Friday suggested the extension last until May 31 but an amendment was agreed upon to have it last until the end of the year.

The bylaw — which mandates masks or face coverings in all indoor public spaces and vehicles, as well as on public transit — came into effect on Aug. 1 as a way to try to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

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When introduced, the bylaw was set to be in effect until the end of the year but the city said it could be extended.

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Since then, mask bylaws have popped up in several municipalities across Alberta. The province has stopped short of mandating face coverings province-wide, leaving it up to individual municipalities to implement bylaws if they choose.

Province-wide mask mandates have been implemented in other provinces, including neighbouring B.C. and Saskatchewan.

The province strongly recommends masks be worn in all indoor workplaces, except when alone in an office or cubicle safely distanced from others, or an appropriate barrier is in place in all communities on the enhanced measures list.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton city council frustrated as COVID-19 second wave grows in Alberta'
Edmonton city council frustrated as COVID-19 second wave grows in Alberta

Earlier this week, Alberta Health spokesperson Zoë Cooper said no single strategy can control the pandemic.

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“It requires all of us to follow all of the public health measures in place. Wearing a non-medical mask is one of the tools we have to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and masks alone are not enough to stop the spread of COVID-19. Physical distancing is crucial to continuing to limit the spread of the virus,” Cooper said in a statement.

“We continue to watch the data in Alberta closely and will consider if adjustments to public health measures are needed.”

The fine for breaking the Edmonton face coverings bylaw is $100, but the city has said it will focus on education rather than enforcement.

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