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Mayor Nenshi says it’s ‘insulting’ to suggest confusion over differing COVID-19 mask dates

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he doesn’t think people are “so dumb” that they can’t figure out different COVID-19 rules in different parts of Alberta.

The mayor responded to questions Wednesday around the differing dates of the city and province masking mandates.  After listening to Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Sue Henry and Dr. Raj Bhardwaj on Monday, the city decided to revisit the mask mandate July 5.

The province is mostly lifting mandatory masking along with Stage 3 of the summer reopening plan starting July 1. This week, Edmonton decided to end their mask bylaw to coincide with Canada Day.

Earlier Wednesday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, speaking at an announcement on funding for research into undocumented and unmarked Alberta residential school deaths, said he’s worried about potential confusion around the different dates.

“I don’t think it’s helpful for different governments to adopt different and conflicting policies. I think that can only lead to confusion in the general public but what we need instead is clarity,” Premier Kenney said.

“The province has offered that clarity with a reopening plan that is based on the expert advice of our chief medical officer of health.”

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw did say masks would still be mandatory in some settings. Masks will still be required on transit, in taxis and rideshares and in health and continuing care settings.

Those measures would stay in place until it was safe to remove them, she said.

Calgary situation different than across Alberta: Nenshi

Mayor Nenshi said the case situation in Calgary is different than in other parts of the province. He said more than half of the Delta variants are in the city of Calgary.

“It’s doubling every 10 days. And we have inconsistent rates of second dose vaccination across the city,” he said.

Premier Kenney did note that Calgary has among the highest first dose numbers in the province. It’s widely reported that a single dose isn’t fully adequate protection against the Delta variant.

Mayor Nenshi said Dr. Hinshaw has told them to make the best decision for each city. She looks at the province as a whole. The city focuses locally.

And as for confusion on the different dates?

“I don’t have that kind of contempt for citizens. I don’t think people are so dumb that they won’t know that there’s a difference in different cities,” Mayor Nenshi said.

“In fact, I find it insulting when people say people will be confused. People aren’t dumb. They know what the rules are.”

During city council, Mayor Nenshi said that he’s been authorized to say that the Calgary Stampede will require masks at indoor venues, regardless of what the city decides July 5.