Edmonton makes masks mandatory in public transit, city facilities
EDMONTON -- The City of Edmonton is making masks mandatory on public transit and inside city facilities starting Aug. 1.
The decision came after Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson called an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon to debate whether Edmonton should follow cities like Calgary in passing mandatory mask rules.
Calgary council also made masks mandatory inside public buildings and on transit Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Iveson decried what he called the "unenviable position" of cities having to make mask decisions themselves instead of the province.
"Very clearly, the premier stepped away from responsibility on this question and dumped it on municipalities yesterday," he said..
On Wednesday, Kenney said a blanket approach to mask rules wouldn't make sense.
"The challenges a very dense city might face on crowded buses couldn't be more different than a remote rural municipality," he said.
Thursday's decision came directly from city staff, independent of council, because administrators have the power to impose it in the interest of public health.
Council may still vote on bylaws that would enact more serious penalties for those who don't wear masks, or broader application of the mandatory mask policy.
Young children, those with underlying health conditions and caregivers don't need to wear masks in the affected spaces.
You also won't have to wear when if you're eating, drinking or exercising.
Under the policy, enforcement will be through education and awareness campaigns rather than fines, but staff members will be permitted to withhold service if someone refuses to comply.
"Through our peace officers, our transit drivers, our facility operators, we'll continue to educate patrons who are using city services," said Interim City Manager Adam Laughlin.
Iveson said some businesses have complained about mask pollicies being applied inconsistently
"This is about reassuring the public that they can have a reasonable expectation of going out, in and amongst each other," said Iveson. "Where they may be in an enclosed space with other people and unable to maintain two-metre distancing at all times, that they're given the confidence they'll be afforded an extra layer of protection."
As the city debate went on inside city hall Thursday, a small group of anti-mask protesters rallied outside the building to try to deter such a policy.
The city said it recently conducted a survey asking Edmontonians whether they'd be more or less likely to use public transit under a mandatory mask policy. Seventy-one per cent of respondents said they felt they'd be more likely to take transit, and 76 per cent said they believed masks should be mandatory inside all public places.
Alberta reported 114 new COVID-19 cases Thursday amid an uptick in the number of active cases in the province, prompting Alberta's top doctor Deena Hinshaw to issue a warning that the numbers are a wake-up call.