EDMONTON -- Edmonton city council voted 10-3 Wednesday afternoon to make masks mandatory in all public indoor spaces starting Aug. 1.

The newly passed bylaw applies to not just city-owned facilities, but privately owned businesses, too. Face coverings will be required in retail stores, entertainment venues, rec centres, vehicles-for-hire and more.

The rule will not apply to anyone under the age of two, those who cannot put on or remove the mask on their own and those who cannot due to a physical or mental concern or limitation.

Rule violators could be fined $100.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said the step was necessary to protect Edmontonians' health and to protect against the possibility of another sweeping economic shutdown.

"I have been vocal about my position on face coverings. We have been strongly suggesting them for some time, but that didn't take us as far as we needed to go," Iveson said following the vote.

Councillors Jon Dziadyk, Tony Caterina and Mike Nickel opposed the bylaw, which is an expansion of an emergency advisory committee decision to make face coverings mandatory in city facilities and on public transit, also set to begin next month.

"If Dr. Hinshaw and the province have not mandated masks... I think it’s an overreach," Ward 11 Coun. Mike Nickel said during Wednesday's debate.

Masks would not be necessary in Edmonton schools or childcare facilities, hospitals and health care centres, or work spaces where staff are separated from patrons.

Another councillor who sat in opposition, Ward7’s Tony Caterina, argued education should be the priority – especially at suggestions the city wouldn’t heavily enforce the rule.

"If education is the way you would go to actually implement this bylaw, why wouldn’t you just implement education regardless of a bylaw or not?" he asked.

"I think that is the most reasonable approach and would send the message that we concur with Alberta Health that this is strongly, strongly recommended and that enforcement is way out there."

However, Bev Esslinger, councillor of Ward 3, told council her support of the rule was for other Edmontonians.

"Masking for me, is about respect. As a community, we’ve come together, we stayed home, and now as a community we can come together and keep one another safe."

Ward 10 Coun. Michael Walters added, "Being asked to wear a mask in August is like being asked to stay home in April. And in fact if we could go back to January or February, we would likely start locking things down earlier.

"So learning from that I think we can be proactive … I’d rather err on the side of caution, minimize the health and economic carnage of a looming second wave."

Reaction to the new rule was split on social media, with many lauding council for taking a strong stance on masks while others suggested the mandatory rule was an overreach.

211 Edmonton reported a surge in questions about the bylaw after it was passed, and directed those looking for a mask to the provincial government's website.


The bylaw refers to "face coverings," meaning "any medical or non-medical masks or other covering that fully covers the nose, mouth and chin."

Masks would not be necessary in Edmonton schools or childcare facilities, hospitals and health care centres, or work spaces where staff are separated from patrons.

People exercising, doing water activities, or dining in a designated space or religious ceremony would not have to wear a mask.

Indoor public places refer to any property the public can access, which includes:

  • Retail shops
  • Entertainment venues like movie theatres
  • Recreation centres
  • Restaurants
  • Transit stations, buses and LRT vehicles
  • Taxis and other vehicles-for-hire

It will be up to business owners whether they decide to refuse service or access to people who do not wear face coverings.

Albertans can pick up free masks at A&W, McDonald’s and Tim Hortons locations throughout the province.

Those who don't live close to one of those restaurants can check a government-provided list of community groups providing free face coverings.


Edmonton's mask debate was pushed ahead quickly at the sign the provincial government would not be issuing an Alberta-wide approach – a stance heavily criticized by Iveson as likely to contribute to inconsistency and a potential second wave of COVID-19 cases.

On Wednesday, the matter was nearly deferred to mid-August. Iveson said he didn’t want to reach Aug. 17 feeling like a decision should already have been made.

"We’re hearing from many businesses, 'Would someone please make a decision?' And even from some of our own neighbours in the region who said it’d be a lot easier if you make the decision, and we could follow," Iveson said during the council meeting.

"The best advice is for everyone to wear masks, but heaven forbid anyone should make a rule 'cause hot potato, I don’t want to make the rule."

On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney repeated his government's position that a blanket approach doesn't make sense.

"This is a very, very big and diverse province," he said. "I think applying the logic of a crowded bus in a downtown core to a far flung rural areas that are sparsely populated and have no active cases would actually be counterproductive to social acceptance of mask wearing."

Calgary and Banff have both instituted a similar rule, with $50 and $150 fines, respectively.

On July 28, Strathcona County Council voted to make masks mandatory in indoor county facilities and on transit as of Aug. 4. The county's emergency management agency will bring a draft bylaw expanding the use of mandatory masks to council early in August.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson