LETHBRIDGE, AB – Wearing face coverings in public places could be history if Alberta hits the targeted vaccination thresholds, but that might not be the case in some municipalities.
As part of the province’s three phase summer reopening plan announced by Premier Jason Kenney on Wednesday, stage 3 would mean no more restrictions and that includes ditching the masks.
If vaccination uptake continues as official expect, it might happen by Canada Day.
That might not be the case in Lethbridge and some other communities however, which have municipal mask bylaws in place.
For Lethbridge, City Council recently voted to extend the face covering bylaw to December 31, 2021. That means if the province lifts the Alberta-wide mask mandate in the weeks ahead, the city bylaw would kick in once again.
Even with that, City Council can bring back a resolution at anytime to revisit the bylaw if needed.
Mayor Chris Spearman was asked about Bylaw 6239 this week and said if it was to be rescinded earlier than the end of this calendar year, it would have to be a collective decision by City Council.
“It depends how comfortable we felt the situation is locally,” Spearman stated Wednesday on a video call with media. “The Premier says he wants one process across the province, but certainly if our numbers are high that would be a concern. So at this point the emphasis is on getting people to get vaccinated.”
The good news though is that Lethbridge new and active case counts have been dropping. In fact, active cases in teh city have fallen more than 60% since early May.
While announcing the province’s summer plans on Wednesday, Premier Kenney said if the province lifts the masking mandate he would “hope cities and municipal councils would follow the province’s lead on this and other respects.”
Mask-wearing, at times has been a very fiery issue through the COVID-19 pandemic across Alberta. Lethbridge was one of the first communities to pass a municipal masking bylaw which first went into effect last August and has been extended a few times since then.