Pincher Creek’s mandatory face covering bylaw was repealed by council during the June 28 council meeting.
The decision comes as a result of the Alberta government removing the provincial mandate for masks to be worn in all public indoor spaces, effective July 1. All other public health measures will also be lifted, though some measures will still apply to care homes and medical centres.
Coinciding with the provincial restrictions was the logical thing to do, said Coun. Scott Korbett.
“When the province pulls it, it will be very, very hard to enforce and will do nothing but create division within the community,” he said, adding that his only concern with repealing the mask bylaw was that people who still want to wear a mask may feel judged for doing so.
“I don’t know how we could capture that other than being kind to one another,” Coun. Korbett said.
Coun. Lorne Jackson agreed with the sentiment.
“I'm immunocompromised myself, and probably will wear a mask in situations where I don't feel comfortable,” he said. “We don’t want to chastise anyone for that.”
The province decided to lift restrictions on Canada Day two weeks ago after 70 per cent of Albertans 12 and over received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. As of June 27, that number has grown to 71.7 per cent, with 38.6 per cent of eligible Albertans being fully vaccinated with both doses.
Rates in the Pincher Creek region are 68.4 per cent with their first dose and 42.7 per cent having received both.
Local opinion is divided about how safe it is to fully reopen, which council members said was reflected in their conversations with residents.
“Several of the people I spoke to work in retail establishments, and there’s a good split there,” said Mayor Don Anderbeg.
“A lot of people are in favour of leaving the mask bylaw in because they feel it gives them some protection,” he continued. “Other people I’ve talked to want it gone because it’s really uncomfortable wearing a mask all day long.”
The importance of individuals taking responsibility for personal and community safety, the mayor added, was something the pandemic had helped people realize.
“I’ll probably remain wearing a mask with or without a bylaw,” said Mayor Anderberg.
Provincial vaccine statistics are available online at bit.ly/AB_Vacc.
Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze