In an effort to ensure consistent enforcement and understanding of public safety messaging, Lethbridge City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously for the municipal Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw 6239 to be repealed alongside Alberta's Open for Summer Plan Stage 3 effective date of July 1.
The Government of Alberta's easing of COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines on July 1 includes the lifting of the general indoor provincial mask mandate. However, masking will still be required in specific settings, as determined by the Government of Alberta, including at acute and continuing care settings, as well as on public transit and in taxis or rideshare cars. Under the Open for Summer Plan, the Government of Alberta has been easing restrictions in a phased approach triggered by increased vaccinations and decreased hospitalization rates.
Council's repeal Bylaw 6302, which carried all three readings Tuesday, also includes a clause that says: "City Council has the ability to bring back a mandatory face covering bylaw if COVID-19 numbers surpass a level of concern as advised by local health authorities."
"Maintaining the local face covering bylaw beyond July 1 would have caused confusion and mixed messaging," said Councilllor Ryan Parker, who introduced the repeal bylaw. "Council believes it is essential for the City of Lethbridge to be in line with the Province's direction and messaging when Stage 3 re-opening occurs. We, as Council, have appreciated everyone's continued diligence and patience with the COVID-19 public health protocols. We are all excited for the opportunity to move forward."
All current restrictions remain in effect until July 1. Continue following public health measures and get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw 6239 came into effect last August, as the World Health Organization, Chief Public Health Officer for Canada and the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta identified face coverings as a way to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Bylaw 6239 stated that a face covering must be worn at all times while in an indoor, enclosed, or substantially enclosed public place or in a public vehicle. This includes places like malls, grocery stores, retail businesses, churches, taxi and ridesharing businesses.
The Province's mandatory mask requirement, which overrides the local Bylaw, began in December 2020. On April 6, 2021, Lethbridge City Council voted to extend the local Bylaw until December 31, 2021. However, Council also had the ability to repeal Bylaw 6239 prior to the extension date. For more information on the City's response to COVID-19, visit www.lethbridge.ca/covid19.