CALGARY -- Lethbridge city council voted unanimously Monday night to mandate masks on Lethbridge Transit, beginning August 4, when the city resumes regular routes and fares.

Riders will be encouraged to bring their masks, but free masks will be made available to those that need them.

Council also voted by an 8-1 margin to ask the city manager to implement mandatory masks in public areas of all City of Lethbridge facilities as soon as practicable. Council also is asking for appropriate legislation, to be ready no later than August 10, mandating city-wide masks, should it be required.

That's a nod towards the recent upward spike in the number of confirmed COVID cases taking place, said Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman, who co-sponsored the motion with Councillor Jeff Carlson.

"The number of active COVID-19 cases in the City of Lethbridge has increased significantly in the past 10 days," said Spearman.

"It is our common desire to sustain the local economy and support businesses in the City of Lethbridge. The wearing of masks has been shown to be an effective means of slowing community transmission of COVID-19. We strongly encourage all residents to wear masks in public. First and foremost, we want to educate our residents about the importance of face coverings."

The CIty of Lethbridge may consider a bylaw similar to one passed by Calgary, mandating the wearing of face coverings in all indoor public premises. The city's statement added that businesses "may also choose to create and enforce their own policies in regards to mandatory face coverings."