Nenshi warns masks could become mandatory if Calgarians don’t take precautions
CALGARY -- According to Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Calgary could join other major Canadian cities in making non-medical masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces if there isn't a noticeable increase in mask use within the city.
Mayor Nenshi says the city could implement such a bylaw in as little as two weeks.
"Our level of mask wearing in Calgary, in stores and in public transit in particular, is way too low, and I’ve been pushing saying 'we gotta do it' and people aren’t doing it," said Nenshi.
"So if Calgarians are not willing to do it on their own order to make sure we get to Stage 3 (of Alberta’s relaunch strategy) — we prevent a second wave, we open the economy more — then certainly we’ll look at all our options.”
Nenshi says he’s willing to ask his city hall colleagues to make non-medical masks mandatory in indoor public spaces at the next council meeting scheduled for July 20.
According to the mayor, masks are amongst three critical actions people should take to limit the spread of COVID-19, along with maintaining physical distance from others and practicing good hygiene.
The potential move from Calgary would come after Toronto implemented a mandatory face covering bylaw that went into effect Tuesday. Canada's most populous city has made it a requirement for masks to be worn in all stores, malls, places of worship, entertainment venues and public transit.
The rules don’t apply to schools, post-secondary institutions, condos, apartment buildings or hospitals.
Masks are also mandatory in Ottawa and Montreal is expected to implement the same rules later this month.
Nenshi says it’s "not at all lost" on him that other Canadian cities are taking action.
"If that’s something we need to examine, then that’s something I’m very happy to bring forward to council," said Nenshi.
"I would prefer a provincial mandate, but I get it, we just have to be careful and we have two regions in Calgary right now that are coming close to the risk profile of 50 cases per 100 thousand and that’s exactly where we need to take action so those numbers don’t grow."
This now leaves the City of Calgary with just 12 days to figure out whether or not it will implement its own mask bylaw.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is not in favour of making non-medical masks mandatory across the province, but remains an advocate for voluntary mask use alongside his chief medical officer of health.
"I agree with what Dr. HInshaw has said from the beginning of the pandemic, that were not going to enforce our way out of this," Kenney said. "We’ve thought long and hard about it and I really don’t want to end up in a situation where we have police or bylaw officers ticketing people or arresting people for not wearing a face covering. I think the implications of that are just deeply problematic."
Kenney added that the science behind wearing a mask shows it could help limit the transmission of the virus. He pointed to countries that have been successful in their efforts to combat COVID-19 including Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea where mask usage is almost universal in crowded places.