CALGARY -- Only four tickets and nine warnings have been handed out in Calgary since wearing a mask became mandatory Aug. 1 on transit and at indoor public spaces.

“Our capacity to ticket is relatively limited,” said Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Chief Tom Sampson on Wednesday.

“We have to be compassionate and understand that there are some people that cannot wear a mask and the bylaw does allow for that.”

Over the past several months, city business licence inspectors have worked closely with business owners and the public to stress the importance of wearing a face covering during the pandemic.

Between the end of July and Oct. 25, bylaw officers have received 1,330 complaints about people not wearing face coverings. But officials say the call volume has actually dropped in the last three weeks by more than half of what the city received when the mask bylaw went into effect.

The fine for not following public health protocols can be up to $1,000. Council voted last month to extend the bylaw until December, when it will be reviewed once again.

Compliance through education has been the city’s approach, said Sampson, and inspectors have addressed the vast majority of complaints by working with all parties to gain voluntary compliance.

But that doesn’t sit well with Wayne Webster. He’s been doing his part to stay home during the pandemic and limit his social activity. He says he was not happy when he recently saw a grocery store worker wearing a full face visor poorly.

“By those employees not wearing a mask underneath their visor, they are putting not only their fellow workers at risk, they’re putting at risk the general public,” said Webster.

Webster did make an official complaint to the city and was told about its voluntary approach.  He thinks there should be stiffer rules in place because he says as it stands it’s not really "mandatory."

“If we all make that sacrifice (to wear a mask), people will not be dying,” he said. “So it’s a small price to pay to make sure that people aren’t dying from this disease.”

Darren Hollman is the owner of the European Deli and Produce Market in southeast Calgary. His staff all wear masks and are in a routine of sanitizing surfaces when customers leave. Hollman says at least 99 per cent of his customers are also wearing masks.

“We have zero push back which is nice,” he said. “Because it’s hard enough with the pandemic itself and putting all the protocols in place the push-back just adds to the monotony of it all but the public have been good, I have nothing really bad to say about it.”

Sampson is not unhappy with the rate of people wearing masks in Calgary.

“I think it’s great, I’m very proud of the job we’re doing,” he said. “I don’t think you could ask for more out of a mask bylaw than the adherence that we’ve got in Calgary, if people are not following on lets hope they have a very good reason.”