CALGARY -- The City of Chestermere has voted in favour of a temporary bylaw requiring the use of face coverings in all indoor public spaces.

According to Mayor Marshall Chalmers, the new legislation followed an outpouring of emails and comments from concerned residents calling for additional safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are aware that mask use has become somewhat of a divisive issue, not only among our residents, but all around the world," said Chalmers. "But 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 says the temporary bylaw will only be in effect when the province declares Chestermere to be in enhanced status — where risk levels requires enhanced public health measures to control the spread. The city has been in enhanced status for several weeks.

“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,” adds Chalmers. “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.”

Schools, hospitals, child-care facilities and areas with proper physical distancing measures are exempt from the bylaw,

Children under the age of two, as well as people who are unable to wear a mask due for physical or mental reasons, will not be required to wear face coverings.

City peace officers and RCMP will enforce the temporary bylaw that carries a $100 fine.