Gateway Gazette

Temporary Bylaw Mandating Face Coverings in Public Indoor Spaces and Public Vehicles Passed by City Council

Calgary City Council voted to pass the temporary Face Coverings Bylaw (BYLAW NUMBER 26M2020) to require the wearing of face coverings in indoor public premises and public vehicles. The City of Calgary initiates these new regulations beginning August 1, 2020.

The bylaw mandates that face coverings be worn on public transit and public vehicles (for hire) and in all public indoor spaces, including City of Calgary buildings.

“This temporary bylaw should be considered one of our most important tools to keep Calgary open,” says Kay Choi, Manager, Strategic Services, Calgary Community Standards. “With businesses reopening, more social interactions and the number of cases increasing in Calgary, these additional measures will better mitigate a potential resurgence being experienced around the world. We know that navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for local businesses and a second wave may further exasperate an already challenged economy.”

The bylaw was informed by feedback from 2,000 local businesses and City of Calgary operations.

Under the bylaw business operators or owners are required to display signage in public entryways of the business or vehicle. The City of Calgary will make downloadable signage available to businesses and operators on Calgary.ca/covid19.

Businesses are not expected to deny services as not everyone is required to wear a face covering. Exceptions to the face coverings bylaw include:

  • Children under 2 years of age
  • People with underlying medical conditions or disabilities inhibiting their ability to wear a face covering
  • People who are unable to place, use or remove a face covering safely without assistance
  • People who are eating or drinking at a public premises that offers food or beverage services
  • People engaging in an athletic or fitness activity
  • People who are caregiving for or accompanying a person with a disability where wearing a face covering would hinder the accommodation of the person’s disability
  • People who have temporarily removed their face covering where doing so is necessary to provide or receive a service (for example, a visit to the dentist)

All levels of government continue to have a role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Calgary City Council may pass bylaws for municipal purposes respecting the safety, health and welfare of people.

The World Health Organization (WHO), Chief Public Health Officer of Canada and the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta continue to strongly recommend the wearing of face coverings to limit the spread of COVID-19 where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Even with the strong recommendation by all orders of government, according to City of Calgary research, only 34 per cent of Calgarians say they always wear a face covering in public or confined spaces (such as grocery stores, shopping malls and public transit), far below the WHO’s desired 80 per cent of the population to be masking regularly in order for community spread to be contained.

The City of Calgary research also found that 74 per cent of Calgarians are either strongly or somewhat supportive of making face coverings mandatory in public and confined spaces.

“If you are in an indoor public space, please wear a face covering,” says Chief Tom Sampson, Calgary Emergency Management Agency. “This is not about enforcement, it is about educating people first. We’re trying to get the public to comply during what could be a worsening situation that may be coming if we can’t respond within the next six to eight weeks.”

The City of Calgary’s primary focus is educating Calgarians on the importance of wearing face coverings in indoor public spaces and public vehicles, rather than enforcement. Failure to wear a face covering where required or failure to display prescribed signage can result in a penalty of $100 to $200.

More information will be made available for business owners or operators and the public on Calgary.ca/covid19 soon.

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