Non-medical masks will be required at all Prince Albert, Sask., city facilities and on transit buses as of Sept. 10.
City council unanimously approved the measure for the public and all city employees after a presentation Tuesday by Dr. Khami Chokani, the medical health officer for the region.
City officials said the mask measure is needed as a first step to protect the health and safety of residents, customers and employees after Chokani told councillors that COVID-19 cases are surging in Prince Albert.
“The rapid, uncontrolled rise of COVID-19 cases in Prince Albert cannot be ignored,” Mayor Greg Dionne said in a statement.
“We cannot wait for the Saskatchewan government. We must take action now.”
He said the city has to go back to measures that previously worked to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“By now, I would have expected to see much higher vaccination rates in our region,” Dionne said.
“With the rise in COVID-19 cases, our ICUs are full. We have to go back to the protection measures that worked for us and one of the most effective measures is masks.”
City officials said they are working on a plan for mandatory proof of a negative COVID-19 test for people who cannot provide proof of being fully vaccinated.
The plan will be reviewed by the city’s executive committee prior to implementation.
There are some exceptions to the mask measures at city facilities.
Masks are not required for people taking part in sport and aquatic activities when they are competing or practicing.
Anyone with an underlying medical condition or disability which inhibits the ability to wear a face-covering or anyone providing assistance to a person with an underlying medical condition or disability where the use of a non-medical face mask would hinder the provision of assistance is not required to wear a mask.
Masks are also not required for persons who are unable to place or remove a mask or face covering without assistance, or for anyone under the age of two.
First responders in an emergency are also exempt from the measure.