Premier Jason Kenney said last week that his COVID cabinet committee will approve a plan likely early this week to start lifting COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta, starting with the Restrictions Exemption Program.
As municipalities hold a mandate to act in the interest of public safety and liaise with the Alberta government on matters that are important to each and every citizen, my request is that Alberta municipalities are considered a partner at the table when making decisions that impact citizens at every level of life. Although health care is a Provincial responsibility, we all have a collective responsibility to do what we can to keep everyone safe and businesses open.
The City of Lethbridge is currently following the Restrictions Exemption Program and current mask mandate – both of which are under Provincial jurisdiction. Once any anticipated changes are officially announced, Council and City Administration will then gauge what the best next steps are for our community.
On June 29, 2021, City Council voted unanimously - in an effort to ensure consistent enforcement and understanding of public safety messaging - for the municipal Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw 6239 to be repealed. The Government of Alberta's mask mandate took effect on September 4, 2021, and the Restrictions Exemption Program was implemented on September 20, 2021. Again, we are following Provincial guidelines.
The City of Lethbridge's mandatory staff vaccination policy, meanwhile, was set by the City Manager for the goal of protecting the safety and health of City staff and the community. Although not a City Council direction, Council was briefed on the administrative policy last September. As with other decisions and restrictions, future discussion may lead to future changes.
Now and always, the safety of our residents is the top priority. Thank you to everyone for continuing to care and show compassion for each other.
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