Calgary council to discuss repealing city's mask bylaw by end of July

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On Monday, Calgary council will discuss potential options regarding the repeal of its mandatory mask bylaw. (Helen Pike/CBC - image credit)
On Monday, Calgary council will discuss potential options regarding the repeal of its mandatory mask bylaw. (Helen Pike/CBC - image credit)

Should vaccination rates, COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations trend in the right direction, Calgary could see its mask bylaw repealed in the near future.

City council will discuss a recommendation from administration to that effect next week, which suggests that the bylaw be repealed on July 31.

Calgary's mandatory mask bylaw was first introduced in July 2020.

The province's own mandatory mask bylaws will be rescinded on July 1 under Stage 3 of Alberta's Open for Summer plan, but both Calgary and Edmonton have indicated decisions regarding their own bylaws are still forthcoming.

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Beyond repealing the bylaw on July 31, other options considered by administration include:

  • Repealing the bylaw on July 1, in conjunction with the Open for Summer plan.

  • Repealing the bylaw when 75 per cent of eligible Calgarians have been fully vaccinated.

Repealing the bylaw on July 31, administration wrote in its report, would allow Calgary to ensure the relaxing of provincial restrictions does not lead to an immediate increase in cases.

In addition, administration said the move would allow more residents to get fully vaccinated and ensure the more transmissible delta variant does not lead to an uptick in cases.

"The timeline proposed provides a low impact measure to prevent COVID-19 transmission while businesses reopen," reads the report.

"[It] offers a specific end date for the face coverings bylaw if there are no further restrictions on operations in indoor public spaces announced by the government of Alberta."

Reopening plans differ

The province met its vaccine threshold required for the three-step reopening plan on Thursday, when more than 70 per cent of eligible Albertans had received at least on dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson previously said he wasn't convinced his city should lift its own mask bylaw at the start of Stage 3, citing advice from the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association.

The group sent a letter to Iveson and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi in early June asking that face-covering bylaws remain in place until 70 per cent of city populations are fully vaccinated with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"This reckless relaxing of precautions and allowing super-spreader events to take place is likely to jeopardize the smooth reopening of schools and workplaces in the fall," the letter reads.

Earlier this month, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he hoped that Calgary and Edmonton would follow the province's lead when it came to provincial mask mandates.

"I would just hope that everyone in the province follows the advice of the chief medical officer, whose team proposed our open for summer plan, which is a safe plan," Kenney said on June 9.

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