'Exercise our kindness': Face mask bylaw now in effect in Calgary
CALGARY -- It’s now August and that means a controversial bylaw that requires all residents and visitors in Calgary to wear face masks inside public buildings and on transit vehicles is in force.
City officials voted in favour of the bylaw, which enforces rules on wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) inside all city facilities, buses, CTrains, taxis, malls and grocery stores, on July 21.
The bylaw also governs public areas of condo buildings, office buildings and, according to mayor Naheed Nenshi, "pretty much anywhere the public is allowed."
"It doesn't include your private work space, (and) it doesn't include your office if there is a door," he said following the bylaw's approval.
The masks are also not required in schools, daycares and multi-family buildings.
While city officials say the primary focus of the bylaw is education and preventing further COVID-19 infections rather than enforcement, fines of $50 could be handed out to individuals who aren't wearing a mask. However, they ask anyone who is concerned about their fellow residents to ask before passing judgement.
"We want to remind Calgarians to not only have a face covering at hand to wear when entering an indoor public space or public vehicle, but to exercise our kindness and compassion that Calgarians are known for," said Kay Choi, strategic services manager with Calgary Community Standards, in a release.
"With underlying medical conditions or disabilities inhibiting the ability for some to wear a face covering, we ask that people not pass quick judgements, and kindly ask others if they are unable to wear a face covering before they assume."
Fines of $200 are also being levied against businesses who don't have proper signage posted in public areas of their business or inside vehicles where mask wearing is required.
The city has made signage, including those in multiple different languages, available for download online. An operator's guide is also available.
Residents who are looking for masks may pick up some for free at a number of locations throughout Calgary. The provincial government has provided 500,000 disposable face coverings for the city to distribute starting Aug. 1.
"This may help ease the burden on those who don't already have their own face coverings," said Susan Henry, deputy chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, in a release.
The supply of free masks is limited and Henry says residents should only take what they need.
"If you have your own cloth or homemade face covering, remember those work just fine to help protect others as long as it fits you well."
More information, along with a list of mask pick up locations, are available on the city's website.