Strathcona County council is keeping their masking bylaw in place a little longer.
On Tuesday (Nov.30), the council took a look at the bylaw, implemented on Sept.10. It is in place alongside the province's mask mandate.
The bylaw was set to expire at the end of the year. While the provincial rules would still require everyone to wear face-coverings, councillor Katie Berghofer raised the concern that it took too long for a masking mandate when cases started to rise in the summer. She does not want to risk it being repealed and the county having no time to react if they feel they aren't ready.
"We already witnessed what happened when we chose to let our last bylaw end," she said, noting their cases went up from five to 333 in about two months, with five deaths in that period.
Berghofer added it is easier to repeal the bylaw in the future if it becomes unnecessary than bring it back if they let it expire.
The motion carried 7-2, with Robert Parks and Glen Lawrence voting against it. This means the masking bylaw has been extended until July 31.
Failure to wear a mask as required under the county bylaw can result in a fine of $100. Only one fine has been given out in the county, with officers taking an educational approach to enforcement.
Edmonton and Calgary are the only two other municipalities in Alberta that kept their masking bylaws.
Under the county's bylaw, masks are mandatory in:
- Public vehicles for hire (taxis, rideshares, vehicles for hire)
- Publicly accessible spaces in workplaces and anywhere in an employee-only area where employees are not at a workstation and separated by two metres and a barrier (e.g. plexiglass)
- Public indoor spaces and events (malls, grocery stores, retail businesses, places of worship)
- County facilities (recreation centres, county buildings) except when exercising or participating in athletics, water activities, dance, theatre or musical performances.