Lethbridge City Council on Tuesday voted 6-3 to extend the municipality's Temporary Mandatory Face Covering Bylaw until December 31, 2021.
Council has the ability to rescind Bylaw 6239 prior to the extension date of December 31, 2021, should it not be required.
Council also passed first reading for an amending Bylaw to harmonize the City of Lethbridge Bylaw exemptions with the Chief Medical Officer of Health Order exemptions. Bylaw 6278 - Amendment No. 1 of the Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw, includes sections regarding active case numbers, the Provincial R factor – and that personal precautions in public spaces will continue to be recommended until after population immunity is achieved. Second and third readings will take place at a future Council meeting.
Bylaw 6239, which was enacted on August 24, 2020, states 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. On December 8, 2020, the Province of Alberta enacted a province-wide mandatory mask requirement – which is also still in effect.
In addition, the Lethbridge bylaw also requires all businesses to post mandatory face covering signage to help remind patrons of the local face covering bylaw. There are no mandatory signage requirements associated with the provincial mandate.
Deputy Mayor Rob Miyashiro says Council's top priority will continue to be the safety of residents.
"Although we have seen the majority of our residents helping to protect our community, our current active case numbers continue to be alarming," says Miyashiro. "Until there is not a major risk to the community, Council will continue to encourage bylaw compliance and following of important public health orders and guidelines. It's important these stay in place until the pandemic has passed."
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.
It was originally set to expire Jan. 12, 2021, unless extended by Council resolution. On November 30, 2020, City Council voted 6-3 to extend the Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw until February 23, 2021. On that date, Council voted 6-3 to extend it to April 30, 2021.
For more information on Bylaw 6239, visit: www.lethbridge.ca/facecoverings
For more information on the Province's mask mandate, visit: https://www.alberta.ca/masks.aspx
For more information on the City's response to COVID-19, visit www.lethbridge.ca/covid19