Today City Council debated the third and final reading of the Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw that will see the mandating of masks aligned with the Province of Alberta's plan.
Currently this requirement is a duplication of the Province’s order issued by the Chief Medical Officer which was effective December 8, 2020. The Provincial Government has since announced we will be in Stage 3 of the Open for Summer plan and the order will be lifted on July 1, 2021.
Administration recommended that the Bylaw to end the mandatory requirement for face coverings be concurrent with the start of Stage 3 of the Provincial plan. If this changes for any reason and we go back to a previous stage or if the Chief Medical Officer of Health issues an order mandating the wearing of masks in Alberta, the mandatory requirement in the bylaw will automatically reactivate regardless of vaccination rates.
This recommendation was supported by the Edmonton Zone Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Skikora, and aligns with the provincial reopening plan put forward by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
There has been a lot of discussion and input into this matter and no one takes it lightly. It was a close, 7-6 decision of Council and that really reflects the community’s values. My colleagues and I have received many emails, phone calls, and messages on social media on this matter. In this Ward, people seemed fairly equally split on both sides. Many businesses supported aligning our bylaw with the Province’s. Opinions vary widely. Some residents want no masks, some want to wait until 50% of the population have received double dose vaccinations, some say 70%, some say until children are vaccinated.
I am not a medical expert and rely on advice from those who are. I voted to support the recommendation by Dr. Skikora and the Administration.
This has been a very emotional and at times heated debate. There is still a lot of apprehension out there. Please respect and be civil towards your neighbours who choose to continue masking and businesses that continue to insist on it. Masks will still be required in public vehicles. Please continue to follow good public health practices like hand-washing, masks where required or requested, and staying home if you are sick.