Calgary makes masks mandatory in all indoor public buildings and public transit
CALGARY -- Calgary council has passed a new bylaw requiring people to wear masks in all indoor public buildings and public transit in the city.
It means masks will be mandated in all City of Calgary buildings, buses, trains, taxis, malls and grocery stores. It applies to all members of the public and employees who are in public areas of buildings who are not able to properly distance. Masks also don’t need to be worn if a person is separated from another person by a shield or plastic barrier.
Minor amendments are still expected to be made on Monday and the bylaw will take effect on August 1.
Mayor Nenshi said, in a press scrum afterward, that he hopes Calgarians won't wait until then to put one on.
"You should start wearing your mask now," he said. "The bylaw will come into effect, which means it's enforceable August 1.
"Start wearing the masks now in interior public spaces," he added. "That includes transit, stores, pretty much anywhere the public is allowed. It includes the public areas of condo buildings as well as office buildings. It doesn't include your private work space, (and) it doesn't include your office if there is a door."
The decision comes the day Alberta announced 141 new cases of COVID-19 across the province, 58 of which are in the Calgary Zone. Calgary has 589 of the province’s 1,193 active COVID-19 cases currently.
“Look, the numbers are bad and if you wait until the numbers are very bad until you take action, things will get worse,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
The city will not require face coverings in schools, daycares and multi-family buildings.
There are also exceptions for children under the age of two; people with an underlying health condition or disability inhibiting them from wearing a mask; people who are drinking or eating in a bar or restaurant; or people working out or playing sports.
"I think Calgarians need to appreciate that without a significant move now, we might be spending Christmas or Thanksgiving alone in our houses,” said Evan Woolley, the Ward 8 councillor.
The mandatory mask bylaw passed with a 12-3 vote. Couns. Sean Chu, Joe Magliocca and Jeromy Farkas voted against.
Farkas said Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. Dr. Deena Hinshaw should be the one making a decision about mandatory masks, not council.
“At this moment, Dr. Hinshaw is not recommending mandatory mask usage. So the issue I have is when these decisions become political and they shouldn’t be. They should be based on evidence and science,” Farkas said.
"What we are talking about here is saving people's lives," Nenshi said. "What we're talking about here is allowing businesses to keep going. I'm not going to stand on ceremony and say 'ah, someone else should do it.
"We didn't just do this on a whim," he added. "We did it on the basis of very good medical and scientific advice."
The vote came after nearly three hours of debate Tuesday afternoon and a lengthy presentation from family physician Dr. Raj Bhardwaj on Monday.