City of Edmonton wants resident input on mandatory mask bylaw

Click to play video: 'Will Edmontonians still have to wear a mask when Alberta’s mandate is lifted?'
Will Edmontonians still have to wear a mask when Alberta’s mandate is lifted?
WATCH ABOVE: Alberta could be lifting its mask mandate as early as next Tuesday, but people in Edmonton might need to mask-up for a bit longer. Despite what the province does, the city still has its own face covering bylaw in place. Kim Smith explains. – Feb 22, 2022

One day before the province lifts nearly all of its COVID-19 public health measures, the City of Edmonton is asking residents to weigh in on its mandatory mask bylaw.

The city launched a survey Monday, seeking input from Edmontonians on its mandatory face coverings bylaw.

On Tuesday, the province’s mandatory mask bylaw will be lifted except for in high-risk settings. However, the City of Edmonton’s mask mandate will remain in place. This means masks will still be mandatory for everyone two and older at indoor public spaces and public vehicles in Edmonton until further notice.

The City of Edmonton’s bylaw has two triggers that require council to review masking. First, when the province rescinds its mask order. Second, when Edmonton has 100 or fewer active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people for 28 consecutive days.

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According to the most recent COVID-19 data available as of Feb. 27, Edmonton had 161 active cases per 100,000.

In a post on Twitter Monday afternoon, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the city’s masking bylaw cannot be repealed arbitrarily.

“There’s a process, prescribed under the Municipal Government Act, that our city council must follow to determine what happens next,” Sohi said.

Sohi said city council will convene a special meeting on March 8 at 1:30 p.m. to discuss the mask bylaw.

Click to play video: 'Alberta mask mandate, most health restrictions ending on March 1'
Alberta mask mandate, most health restrictions ending on March 1

Speaking on 630 CHED Afternoons with J’lyn Nye, Nakota Isga Coun. Andrew Knack said it’s a bit challenging to base the mandate on specific metrics now, because of a lack of access to PCR testing.

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“We wanted to have some measures that were concrete, that people could follow along with,” he said. “But with the challenge in testing, I think that is causing us to have to reevaluate.”

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Knack said he’s heard from residents and business owners on both sides of the mask debate.

“Truly, everyone is ready to get rid of them. Nobody wants to keep wearing them. But I’ve got that side of folks who are really eager to see things removed — everything removed,” he said. “But then we also hear from folks who are worried this is being too fast.”

Knack admits he himself is also torn for many of the same reasons.

“I remember last summer when council deactivated the bylaw and I did not support originally deactivating the bylaw because I was worried it was too soon. And a few months later we saw the province bring everything back in and more, to deal with a pretty significant wave,” he explained.

“At the same time, things have changed since then. More people are vaccinated now and that has a significant impact on the severity of this virus. And there’s that mental exhaustion from everyone.”

Knack said he’s looking forward to the chance to ask questions of the Edmonton zone chief medical officer of health about what we can expect about future waves of COVID-19, and whether public health measures can have a meaningful impact.

“If they can’t, then I think that helps answer that question. If they can, we have to weigh that against the other impacts — the potential economic impacts, potential mental health impacts,” he said.

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In its survey, the City of Edmonton asks a number of questions, including whether the respondent believes wearing a mask should still be required in Edmonton once the provincial mandate is lifted Tuesday.

READ MORE: Edmontonians will still have to wear masks when Alberta’s mask mandate is lifted

Another question asks if wearing a mask on public transit should be required after Tuesday. Several questions also inquire about the person’s transit usage and likelihood to use public transit once the face coverings bylaw is lifted.

Survey respondents are also asked how likely they are to continue wearing a mask in indoor settings even if the city’s mandatory face coverings bylaw is removed.

The survey can be done online and is open until March 7. The city said the results will be used to inform city council members in their review of the bylaw.

Calgary city council voted earlier this month to lift its city mask mandate when the provincial mandate is lifted.


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