Chestermere City Council passed a temporary mandatory mask bylaw at the Nov. 17 Regular Meeting of Council.
The temporary mandatory mask bylaw requires residents and visitors to wear a face-covering at all times while in an indoor public space, public workplace, or public vehicle where other people are present.
“Council passed this bylaw after receiving an overwhelming number of emails and comments from residents asking for further action to protect our community from COVID-19,” said Mayor Marshall Chalmers.
“This bylaw is temporary and will only be activated when the Government of Alberta places the city under an enhanced status, as we have been for the past few weeks,” he said.
The temporary mask bylaw does not apply to schools and other educational facilities, hospitals and health-care facilities, childcare facilities, and areas where physical barriers or physical distancing practices have been properly implemented.
The temporary mask bylaw does not apply to persons under the age of two, persons who are unable to place, use, or remove a face covering without assistance, persons unable to wear a face-covering due to a mental or physical concern or limitation, or protected ground under the Alberta Human Rights Act, persons consuming food or drink in designated seating areas or as part of religious or spiritual ceremony, persons engaged in water activities or physical exercise, persons providing care or assistance to a person with a disability where a face covering would hinder that caregiving or assistance, and persons engaging in services that require the temporary removal of a face covering.
“We are aware that mask use has become somewhat of a divisive issue, not only among our residents but all around the world. Ultimately, the evidence shows that masks can protect the wearer and those in proximity to that person. Therefore, as the safety, welfare and the health of our residents is the most important issue, we must do whatever we can to combat the rapidly increasing infection rates in our province and in our own community,” Chalmers said.
“We take the recent call to action from the Premier and Dr. Hinshaw seriously, and in addition to now mandating mask use, we are asking people to limit their gatherings, practice physical distancing, and continue with other COVID-safe practices such as staying home when sick, and washing and sanitizing your hands frequently. We want our indoor sports, fitness activities, businesses, faith groups, and our local organizations to be able to go back to normal as soon as possible, and we need your help to do that.”
Adding, “This community can through all its hard work, take us off the enhanced list, it’s up to us to buckle down and do our part. This is just one component of trying to fight this fight.”
In previous decisions about the temporary mandatory mask bylaw, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and Director of Emergency Management, Bernie Morton believed the bylaw wouldn’t serve any good, because many residents were using masks on their own, and at the time, active case numbers were low.
“During the height of the first wave, our community’s highest active case count was 14, as of today we’re at 63, and just a few days ago we were in the 80’s. Now I believe is the time for a mandatory mask bylaw,” Morton said.
“We have an obligation to do our very best with measures that are available to us to try and protect the health and wellbeing of the public,” he added. “We all have to collectively do much better to prevent what we’re seeing.”
The temporary mandatory mask bylaw will be enforced by City Peace Officers and RCMP, and anyone found to be contravening the bylaw will be subject to a $100 fine.