Strathmore passes mask bylaw

·2 min read

In a reversal of an earlier vote, today Strathmore town council passed a mandatory face covering bylaw requiring residents to wear masks when visiting indoor public spaces.

The bylaw takes effect immediately.

According to Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule, council worked with administration to make the bylaw the best solution for the town.

“They made adjustments and amendments to make this is a more palatable bylaw that will still protect a lot of people in Strathmore,” he said. “We’re regular people caught in a really irregular health crisis, and I just hope the public will support all the councillors who have tried to make the best decision they can for the community’s health and safety.”

The bylaw requires masks to be worn in all indoor public places and public vehicles, unless the person is separated from other persons by an installed screen, shield or other barrier. Businesses must also display signage at their entrances requiring people to wear masks.

Anyone breaking either of these rules is liable to a fine of not less than $50. The bylaw also notes that if circumstances represent a “marked endangerment” or “increased risk of endangering public health,” a larger fine is possible.

Under the bylaw, a proprietor may refuse entry to his/her business or ask a person to leave an indoor public place or vehicle and may request assistance of a peace officer. The officer can also issue a violation ticket requiring a court appearance of the person breaking the rules.

The bylaw will be enacted when the number of COVID-19 cases in Strathmore exceeds 20, as reported by Alberta Health Services. However, town council may activate the bylaw at any time by resolution. Once enacted, the bylaw will be reverted once the number of cases in Strathmore is less than 20 for 14 consecutive days.

The bylaw has several exemptions. Children under five years of age are not required to wear masks. Additionally, people with medical conditions or disabilities preventing them from wearing a mask are exempt. Also exempt are people who cannot use or wear a mask safely without assistance. Under the bylaw, people are not required to provide proof to an employer, business operator or proprietor of any exemption.

People are exempt during certain activities, such as eating or drinking while seated at a business offering food or beverage services, during athletic or fitness activities, or while receiving services impeded by masks. The bylaw does not apply to schools and businesses already undertaking face covering measures through provincial guidelines, corporate requirements and recognized provincial professional bodies.

Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times