Cold Lake city council voted against the first reading of a proposed mandatory mask bylaw at its regular meeting on Tuesday.
The proposed bylaw was developed by considering mandatory mask bylaws passed by several other municipalities navigating the COVID-19 pandemic across Alberta.
Among the proposals included for discussion:
- Mandatory mask use in any public vehicle or place accessible by members of the public. Council could consider whether this included all public places or only public facilities such as the Energy Centre, City Hall, Transit buses, etc.
- Excluding children 10 years of age and younger from mandatory mask use. Council could discuss changing the exclusion age (ex: minors under 18, children under 5), and including people with disabilities, people engaged in physical exercise, eating, or separated by a physical barrier.
- Bylaw would be triggered if the city of Cold Lake was put under “watch” status by the Government of Alberta. A region is put under “watch” status when there are at least 10 active cases and more than 50 active cases per 100,000 residents. Council could discuss making the trigger a specific number of active cases in the community, or when the Government of Alberta raises the city’s status from “watch” to “enhanced”.
- Mandatory mask use would be cancelled once the “watch” status is removed by the Government of Alberta for at least 30 consecutive days. Council could consider a different period of time including 14 days (equal to the required isolation period).
- Fines starting at $100 for people who fail to adhere to the bylaw.
“Since the pandemic began, we have been closely following the advice and guidance of Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health,” said Mayor Craig Copeland.
“After much discussion, it is Council’s opinion that if mask use is to be made mandatory in public places, that decision should be made by Dr. Hinshaw and Alberta Health. We will not be mandating mask use at a municipal level in Cold Lake.”
As of Wednesday evening there are 18 active cases of the virus in the Cold Lake area, as shown on the AHS virus data map.