Both the City of Lethbridge and Lethbridge Police Service are aware of public concerns both for and against the mandatory face covering bylaw. The health and safety of our community remains our number one concern as every effort is made to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Statement from Lethbridge Police Service
The Lethbridge Police Service respects and will defend the rights of citizens to express their views on issues including the mandatory safety restrictions put in place by the province and the City of Lethbridge to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our preferred approach is to educate and seek voluntary compliance with the legal measures that have been put in place. Unfortunately, the nature of such protests has elevated in Lethbridge as of late.
Sometimes, extreme protests interfere with the rights and freedoms of other citizens, who are doing their part to reduce the spread of the virus. In the process, those protesters also put the community's safety and well-being in jeopardy.
Our priority at the Lethbridge Police Service is to protect the whole community, and we will take the appropriate enforcement actions when people in our community are put in harm's way. Protesters, and protest organizers who infringe on the rights of other citizens to go about their daily lives will need to be held accountable.
While there are monetary penalties for those who contravene a public health order, criminal charges including causing a disturbance may be considered, if circumstances warrant.
It is not the intention of the Lethbridge Police Service to prohibit the actions of those who wish to bring attention to their own particular views and opinions, as long as it is done in a safe, sensible and respectful manner. Those who intrude on the ability of others to enjoy all this community has to offer, however, must and will be held accountable.
- Shahin Mehdizadeh, Chief, Lethbridge Police Service
Statement from City of Lethbridge
We understand people are tired and frustrated with COVID-19 restrictions but we also know, Albertans are dying and we need to do everything we can to stop that from happening. We also have to be very conscious about the capacity of our health care system and make every effort to prevent it from becoming overburdened.
Our masking bylaw is just one way in which we are working with our residents and visitors to limit the transmission of COVID-19. We would encourage everyone to comply to the bylaw and follow of the important public health orders and guidelines.
We have seen excellent compliance to this bylaw and masks have become the social norm across our City. I commend everyone who has taken this important step to protect our community.
It is disappointing to see a small group of people act carelessly and without consideration how they may harm others by ignoring and protesting against COVID restrictions. Those who are against our face covering bylaw have the right to express their opinions but they do not have the right to put others at risk.
We are working closely with our partners at LPS to continue educating the public, recognizing that they may need to expand to enforcement measures if community safety is at risk.
As the Alberta Government heightens restrictions, now is a time to be more vigilant, not less. It is clear we are in a very serious and dangerous point of this pandemic and I am pleading with everyone to be part of the solution. Be safe. Be kind. Be respectful.
- Chris Spearman, Mayor, City of Lethbridge
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