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COVID-19: Mask use on Calgary Transit to come to city council

Mandatory masks on Calgary Transit will be put forward by City of Calgary administration Monday, along with triggers for further action should the COVID-19 situation warrant it.

City councillors have been split on making mask use mandatory in the city. Some are in favour, some opposed and others conditionally in favour. There’s also been wrangling among councillors over how far city action should go and whether it should include transit, city facilities or an extended mandate to cover all of Calgary.

“I certainly have a point of view on this,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi, in a virtual conference with reporters Tuesday. In that meeting, Nenshi said administration would seek direction from council on how they want to move forward.

“I know that members of council have been out in the community, a lot, so I really want to hear what they have to say as well.”

Mayor Nenshi said on Tuesday that administration would seek the advice of council on mask use. Now, administration is instead coming back with three recommendations.  

The primary recommendation is expected to be for mandatory mask use on Calgary Transit only. The other two would discuss the expansion of that mandate and what thresholds would be used to move them forward.

Mayor Nenshi said that the city would be able to direct mask use on transit and in city facilities. They would need a bylaw, however, to expand that further to include city indoor spaces and businesses.

Alberta coronavirus cases rising

As the ground continues to shift on the city’s proposed plan for mandatory mask use in Calgary, COVID-19 cases are rising.

The province’s relaunch plan began in May with the initial reopening of some businesses. Starting June 12, the economic reopening expanded further. All have been governed by slowly relaxed public health rules.

People are out and about, participating at local businesses. There have been more and larger gatherings.

Over the past four days case counts have been in the 80s. Both Premier Kenney and Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health have expressed concern over the increase.

“The virus has been in Alberta for four months,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw.  

“While we saw cases decline from the peak seen in April, our daily cases have begun to rise over the past few days.”

Dr. Hinshaw said that much of the same public health messaging has been reiterated daily in that time.

“This pandemic has been a long haul, and I worry that Albertans may be starting to tune the messages out,” she said.

“It can seem like old news and many are tired of hearing this information.”

Dr. Hinshaw reiterated the message of hand-washing, physical distance and the wearing of masks to prevent spread of COVID-19.