Masks mandatory in Calgary as of Aug. 1

Photo by engin akyurt

A new bylaw will take effect on Aug. 1 requiring Calgarians to wear face masks in public areas — with a few exceptions.

On July 21, Calgary city council voted 12 to 3 in favour of the bylaw, in the hopes of curtailing the spread of COVID-19, which has rebounded across the province in July.

“This wasn’t an easy decision,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi in a statement following the successful vote. “No one takes this decision lightly. Those calling for it are looking at the data and making decisions based on our collective health.”

“We have an opportunity to get this right, and we know this is how to do it.”

The bylaw draft states that face coverings will be required in all public buildings spaces, unless there are external factors that would limit transmission — such as plastic screens or barriers.

This means any indoor place the public has a right to access — such as grocery stores, shopping malls, or Calgary transit — would require the wearing of a mask or other face covering.

Included in the bylaw are places of worship, such as temples, churches or mosques. However, masks may be removed temporarily for patrons to receive communion and other comparable religious services.

In the same vein, if a mask prevents an individual from receiving a service, such as going out for a meal, masks will not be required.

Fines between $100 to $200 could result from non-compliance with the bylaw, although the city has said the aim of the legislation is educational in nature.

There are exemptions for individuals that would allow them not to wear a face covering where normally they would: children under the age of two, individuals with previous conditions that inhibit their ability to wear a mask, or those who cannot utilizing a mask safely without assistance, such as those with physical or mental disabilities.

Mayor Nenshi said the reasoning behind the legislation of the bylaw was threefold.

“Firstly, we’re doing this to ensure public safety,” Nenshi said. “Wearing a mask won’t protect you as the wearer, but it will protect others from you … we’re all keeping each other safe, and that improves our strength and resiliency.”

Nenshi then went on in his statement to reference the economy, expressing that while the first shutdown to the economy was necessary in the face of the threat of COVID-19, it’s “critical that we do not allow the virus to spread to the point where the Province is forced to do that again.”

“If you’re concerned about the economy, the answer is simple — wear a mask!”

Lastly, he said that Calgarians need to act fast as schools are set to re-open in September. With only six weeks, Nenshi said progress needs to be made and evident to achieve peace of mind with students returning to school.

“This bylaw will come into effect for August 1, but you can start to make the decision to protect your community today,” he ended the statement.

In addition to masks continuing to be provided at McDonalds, Tim Hortons and A&W locations, the city of Calgary said it will also be distributing masks at public facilities.

Kerby Centre remains a mask distribution centre. Those in need of face coverings can visit Kerby Centre from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the week to pick up a mask or call our hotline at 403-705-3175. By leaving your name, phone number and address, our volunteers will be able to deliver masks to your home.