Edmonton's masking bylaw coming back Friday

·2 min read
Edmonton city council voted to reinstate a masking mandate for all indoor public spaces. (Arthur Raham/CBC - image credit)
Edmonton city council voted to reinstate a masking mandate for all indoor public spaces. (Arthur Raham/CBC - image credit)

Edmontonians will once again have to mask up while visiting grocery stores, restaurants and other publicly-accessible places.

Edmonton city council voted Monday to extend and fortify its masking bylaw, requiring residents to wear face coverings in all public indoor spaces.

Council also extended masking requirements for public transit, taxis and ride-sharing vehicles that were set to expire at the end of September.

The vote passed 9-2. Councillors Jon Dziadyk and Mike Nickel voted against the motion. Sarah Hamilton and Ben Henderson were absent from the meeting.

New case thresholds were also attached to the bylaw. It will now deactivate if cases of COVID-19 fall below 100 per 100,000 population for 10 straight days.

The bylaw comes into effect Friday and is set to expire on Dec. 31. There are some exceptions under certain scenarios, such as when on an exercise machine or seated at a restaurant table.

Residents frustrated, says mayor

Mayor Don Iveson said he's hearing a lot of frustration from residents about the current state of COVID in the province.

He said he wants Edmontonians to know council takes rising case counts seriously.

"If [this] does bend the curve or flatten it a little bit as we work through this, I think that that is good service," he said. "I think that that is good leadership."

Watch | Don Iveson speaks about bringing back the mask mandate

Coun. Aaron Paquette said his yes vote was an easy decision.

"I don't think anyone in their right mind is looking for system overwhelm. But that is the path we're on if we do nothing."

Some councillors expressed worry for employees who will have to take up the enforcement burden again. Others spoke of their disappointment in the provincial government for not taking more of a lead and not releasing data used in COVID-19 decision making.

Province responds

The province said in a statement that municipalities are free to implement measures as they see fit.

"The province is seeing an increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19, overwhelmingly among unvaccinated Albertans," Steve Buick, press secretary for the health minister, said in a statement. He added that about 96 per cent of ICU patients in recent months were unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated.

"Vaccines remain the only sure way out of the pandemic. They protect us, our families and the wider community."

Council also decided Monday that by Sept. 10, all City of Edmonton employees will be required to disclose whether they have received a COVID-19 vaccination.

Edmonton's mandatory masking bylaw was previously deactivated on July 1.

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