Red Deer city council passes temporary mandatory face mask bylaw

Face masks are temporarily mandatory in Red Deer after city council approved a bylaw mandating face coverings for indoor public places and public vehicles effective Nov. 30.

The decision to proceed with a short-term face covering bylaw came after discussions over the past few weeks and during last week’s Special City Council Meeting. During this meeting, a number of amendments were considered by council, triggering third reading at today’s regular city council meeting.

“Mandating temporary face coverings in Red Deer is a short-term measure to be responsive to the evolving pandemic in Red Deer and across the province,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “We know this is a divisive issue in our community, and although the Province has yet to mandate masks across Alberta, City Council believes this temporary measure is critical if we want local case numbers and hospitalization to remain flat. Through this bylaw, we are putting into action, the recommendations of health officials because the safety, health and well-being of all citizens continues to be our number one priority.”

The bylaw has a sunset clause making it expire March 1, 2021.

The bylaw mandates all citizens must wear a face covering in indoor public places and public vehicles with the exceptions noted in the bylaw. This includes any place, whether publicly or privately owned, where members of the public have access as of right or by implied invitation.

The bylaw does not apply to several groups including children under nine, those who are disabled, and anyone eating/drinking, or engaging in heavy labour or physical fitness activities. It applies to passengers in public vehicles, like taxis or rides for hire, but not to drivers where there is a barrier installed in the vehicle. Businesses affected by the bylaw are required to display signage.

The fine for not wearing a face covering in a public place is $50.

“This decision is about protecting public health and safety, protecting our health care system, and doing whatever we can to help stabilize the local economy and prevent potential future lockdowns that could result in further business impacts and closures,” said Veer. “We are all feeling the pressures of COVID-19; citizens, businesses and Albertans alike are significantly affected. The city will continue to do everything we can to support our local citizens and businesses by putting measures in place that could minimize the spread of COVID-19.”

Red Deer is now one of about 19 other Alberta municipalities, including Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge, to have a mandatory face covering bylaw in place.