LETHBRIDGE, AB – After some debate and a presentation by a group of Lethbridge doctors, City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to repeal the municipal face-covering bylaw.
That means as of July1st, mask wearing in the city will be at your discretion.
Councillors had to pass three readings of a repeal bylaw in order to give the temporary face-covering bylaw the boot and they did just that.
The bylaw was first adopted in late August of 2020 and has been extended a few times since then. The province though is lifting most pandemic restrictions on Canada Day as stage three of Alberta’s Open For Summer Plan. Part of that includes the scrapping of the province-wide mask mandate.
“Maintaining the local face covering bylaw beyond July 1 would have caused confusion and mixed messaging,” said Councilllor Ryan Parker, who introduced the repeal bylaw. “Council believes it is essential for the City of Lethbridge to be in line with the Province’s direction and messaging when Stage 3 re-opening occurs. We, as Council, have appreciated everyone’s continued diligence and patience with the COVID-19 public health protocols. We are all excited for the opportunity to move forward.”
Although Council voted unanimously to end the mask mandate, a few Councillors, including Mayor Chris Spearman were a bit reluctant, however supported the bylaw nonetheless.
A group of doctors sent a letter to Council late last week saying that given the current low COVID-19 case counts in the city and high vaccination rates, there was no reason to keep the local mask bylaw in place beyond July 1st.
Councillor Jeffrey Coffman supported the repeal bylaw and at the same time asked residents to respect each other. If someone still choses to wear a mask in public, for whatever reason, we should respect their decision to do that.
This has been a contentious issue ever since the bylaw was first brought in almost a year ago.
Although the bylaw ends July 1st, a clause in this new repeal bylaw states “City Council has the ability to bring back a mandatory face covering bylaw if COVID-19 numbers surpass a level of concern as advised by local health authorities.”
As of right now, the numbers in Lethbridge are the lowest they’ve been since the bylaw was first put into effect.