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Calgary face mask repeal criteria extended to 28 days

Calgary city councillors voted to increase the number of days COVID caseloads need to be under 100/100K before they’ll rescind the city’s mandatory masking bylaw.

While it was an organizational day at city council on Monday, this item was tacked on by new Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott.

Calgary city council reinstated a mandatory face-covering bylaw Sept. 3 at a special meeting of council. That bylaw ceases to have effect when the active COVID-19 case rate in Calgary falls below 100 cases per 100,000 population for 10 consecutive days.

Walcott’s urgent business suggested city council extend the number of days to 28.

Before making a decision, councillors heard that cases had come down to 99/100K on Oct. 29, according to Kay Choi, Manager, Strategic Services with Calgary Community Standards.

“If the active COVID-19 cases in the Calgary region numbers stay at or below this level for the next 10 days the bylaws will be repealed on Monday, November 8,” she said.

“If the bylaw expires, it will not be automatically reinstated.”

She said the primary impact would be that city peace officers would no longer be able to enforce the province’s mask mandate. They don’t have specific repeal criteria.

Later, councillors heard from CEMA Chief Sue Henry that the case ratio was currently 92/100K.

Coun. Kourtney Penner said it was prudent for them to extend the number of days to protect the public. Particularly given the recent Halloween events and the two-week window for cases.

“I’m just concerned about the November 8 day if we were to stay at the 10 days. That’s only three days before Remembrance Day and we know that’s a large day for gathering and so I think this gives extra protection to many of the vulnerable individuals who will be attending those ceremonies,” she said.

Take guidance from province: Coun. McLean

Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean started off by saying, “Thank God the rates are dropping.”

McLean then asked if the city had talked with AHS or the provincial government.

“What I’d like to see, to make it simpler, would be to align our policy with the provincial government,” he said.  

“They already have a mask mandate, and rather than confuse people, which happens too often.”

Ward 10’s Andre Chabot said he appreciated the intent of the motion. He felt 28 days was too long. Particularly if it could be triggered again by going back above 100/100K.

“I think if there were some numbers that would demonstrate that we need to go backwards as a result of Halloween then we should look at dates that fall two weeks outside of that timeframe and then reassess,” he said.

Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong said he was concerned that if they made this change it would require a 10-vote reconsideration to make any further changes.

Together for the holidays

Prior to the debate, Mayor Jyoti Gondek said they needed to make a measured decision.

“One of the things that we’ve learned with our experience in this pandemic, is that there has been this desire to lift restrictions very quickly and very prematurely. And what we have done is spiraled back down into restrictions,” she said.

“We need to make a measured decision of whether a little bit longer period of time with this particular restriction is prudent and will allow everyone to actually spend time with their loved ones over the holidays, which is something we’ve heard loud and clear from Albertans and Calgarians.”