Council debates temporary mandatory face covering bylaw for Fort Saskatchewan

Posted On Tuesday August 04, 2020

As part of the City of Fort Saskatchewan’s ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep the community and staff safe, City Council today debated Bylaw C29-20 establishing mandatory face coverings for people inside all public buildings, transit buses and enclosed bus shelters, and other forms of public transportation for hire effective August 10, 2020.

Council proposed and approved two amendments to the Bylaw:Under Section 8 Enactment Item 8.1 was revised to read: The provisions of this Bylaw may only be enacted by the City Manager when the number of active COVID-19 cases within the City (Fort Saskatchewan) is reported by Alberta Health Services to be 10 or more. This motion was passed 5 – 2.

A further amendment to the exceptions changed the age of persons exempt from wearing a mask from under the age of two to 9 years of age and under. This motion passed unanimously. The Bylaw then received 3 readings as amended and was passed unanimously.

“Council had a very healthy and productive debate on this Bylaw and I think we made the best decision for our community given the current low rate of cases (3 as of today). However, Council was very clear in stating over and over that everyone still needs to wear a mask when they can’t physically distance from others and handwashing and staying home if ill are still critical to keep our numbers low,” stated Mayor Gale Katchur.

The Bylaw does not apply to schools and other educational facilities; hospitals and health care facilities; child care facilities; or areas exclusively accessed or used by employees or the operators of a Public Transportation Vehicle, provided that physical barriers or physical distancing practices are implemented.

Others exempt in the Bylaw are persons who are unable to place, use, or remove Face Coverings without assistance; persons providing care or assistance to a person with a disability where a Face Covering would hinder that caregiving or assistance; persons consuming food or drink in designated seating areas or as part of a religious or spiritual ceremony; persons engaging in aquatic activities or physical exercise; or persons engaging in services that require the temporary removal of a Face Covering.

Administration did confirm to Council that a policy for mandatory face coverings will apply to all City-run indoor facilities effective August 10, 2020 and patrons will be educated on the procedures when they visit the Dow Centennial Centre, City Hall and other administration buildings and facilities including the public library.

Following the Chief Medical Officer of Health, public health measures can protect individuals and the community in which they live from the spread of COVID-19. It is still critical to practicing good hygiene, maintaining physical distancing, wear a suitable face covering in public, stay home if ill and get tested and monitoring for symptoms. Learn more at alberta.ca/prevent-the-spread.

The City’s website has details on suitable face coverings and FAQs on where and how the Bylaw impacts City services. The website is updated regularly with COVID-19 related information including links to Provincial and Federal support programs. For our local business community, we have created a COVID19 Resources for Businesses page and will continually update it as more information is available.If individuals have questions on how to access resources or find themselves navigating supports that are unfamiliar to them, please call the FCSS support line at 780-992-6281 for assistance.