LETHBRIDGE, AB. – Mask-wearing has become one of the most contentious issues of the COVID-19 pandemic, sparking protests and concerns about a violation of personal rights and freedoms.
Are you prepared to wear a mask for at least another 11 months?? Well, Lethbridge City Council will be asked soon to consider a long extension to its temporary face-covering bylaw.
Last August, Council passed the bylaw aimed at helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 and extended that bylaw to this month.
However, Councillors will be asked again to extend the city bylaw, this time until December 31st, 2021.
Robin Harper, the General Manager of Recreation and Culture for the City of Lethbridge will bringing forward a recommendation to Council’s Community Safety Standing Policy Committee (SPC) on February 11th asking that Bylaw 6239, in its current form, be extended until the end of this calendar year.
Harper say the agenda for the Community Safety SPC meeting will be made public on February 4, 2021. This will provide the opportunity for the public to submit written engagement prior to the meeting date.
Citizens also have the opportunity to request to speak at the February 11th meeting.
Alberta’s UCP government instituted a province-wide mask-wearing mandate two months ago (Dec. 8, 2020), but if extended this local bylaw would remain in place even if the government rescinds its face-covering protocols later this year.
City Council will have three options to consider next week:
- Option 1: Rescind Bylaw 6239
Potential impact of increased transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Public awareness and communication regarding the change would be required. This may also result in increased volume of calls and inquiries. The current Provincial Health Order regarding mask usage would still be in effect until such time as that was rescinded. Residents would be required to continue to wear a mask as per that Order.
- Option 2: Extend Bylaw 6239 in its current state and intent until December 31, 2021
The organizational impact to extend the bylaw in its current form and intent would be minimal at this time. Resources required to continue with the current to inquiries and questions as well as the
educational and public awareness is already in place and maintaining the current status is anticipated to not generate new questions from the community.
- Option 3: Extend Bylaw 6239 with revisions until December 31, 2021
Direction from City Council would be required as to the specific revisions being requested. A decision on the current bylaw status would be required until such time as the revised bylaw could be presented to City Council. Additional resources may be required to fulfill any requirements resulting from revisions.
Additional communication to the community would be required to provide information on the changes. Changes may also impact Regulatory Services, Communications and 311 if there are increases in inquiries and questions.