CALGARY -- The mandatory face covering requirement has expanded beyond Calgary and Edmonton, and now includes the City of Airdrie.

The city of 70,000, less than 30 minutes from Calgary, has been upgraded from “watch” to “enhanced” status — which triggered its mandatory mask bylaw which passed council in August but was just implemented for the first time Friday.

In a news release, Mayor Peter Brown said in part, “the voluntary measures we strongly encouraged people to comply with have not been enough and Airdrie’s case counts have risen dramatically.”

There are 130 active confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city according to its website. The provincial breakdown is not expected until Monday due to a technical error.

Brown added, "personal accountability is critical right now. Regardless of whether or not you believe masks work, masks are one component of staying healthy as are staying vigilant on hand hygiene, social distancing, and keeping your cohorts small. Now, more than ever, I urge you to be accountable for your health, keep our community safe and be a good neighbour."


Enhanced status

Airdrie’s mandatory mask bylaw hinged on the city being placed under enhanced status by the province.

Children under age five and those with medical conditions or disabilities that inhibit them from wearing a mask are exempt from the bylaw.

It applies to all indoor public spaces and vehicles, including transit.

The fine for failing to comply is $100, and doubles for properties that do not display prescribed signage.

Some Airdrie doctors say the city is in a unique position being a short drive from Alberta’s largest city — and support mandatory face coverings.

“The reality in Airdrie is we don’t have any ICU (Intensive Care Unit) beds. We don’t have a hospital. So patients from here will end up in Calgary hospitals and in the Calgary ICU’s, so its important we help support Calgary too,” said Dr. Avneet Brar.

“If (Calgary’s) cases are rising that affects our medical resources and if ours are rising that affects them so we need to work with them.”

Leaders with the Airdrie Community Physician’s Association have also been outspoken encouraging masks, having written to Mayor Brown and council Wednesday night calling for the bylaw to take effect.

“I think masks are really important at this point. It’s very critical for all of us to save our community to save our economy by wearing masks because its a low-cost intervention,” said Dr. Fozia Alvi.