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Town of Innisfail ends mandatory masking policy

Staff will still be given choice on whether to still wear a mask
MVP Innisfail repeals masking policy
Innisfail mayor Jim Romane, right, swears in Coun. Don Harrison as deputy mayor last February when mandatory masking by council members and staff was required at town hall and all other town-owned facilities. That policy was repealed by town council on June 28. Johnnie Bachusky/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL – With the province now at Stage 3 of its COVID recovery plan, the Town of Innisfail no longer has a Mask Use Policy.

The policy for town-owned facilities and work sites was first approved by town council last Dec. 14. It was unanimously repealed at council’s regular meeting on June 28.

The issue was brought to council by Todd Becker, the town’s chief administrative officer.

He began by telling council that June 29 would likely be the last formal meeting for members of the Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) due to “limited information” coming from Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.

However, council was also told ECC could still meet on an ‘as-needed’ basis.

Becker then told council it was necessary to deal with the town’s Mask Use Policy in light of what the town was anticipating on July 1 with the province's COVID recovery plan, which was expected to end all COVID restrictions.

The town’s Mask Use Policy required town employees and members of council to wear a face covering if they are in a public area, unless there is a physical barrier, such as plexiglass that was installed in the council chamber to protect elected officials, staff and citizens from the virus.

The policy was also applicable to the public when using town facilities.

“We feel this policy, in light of July 1 (and) Step 3, is perhaps no longer required in a mandatory form,” said Becker, adding staff would continue to talk about the issue of employees still making personal choices about COVID and the health and wellbeing of those around them.

“COVID is still there and how do we manage COVID internally as an organization?”

Council members unanimously agreed the town should continue to follow the province’s direction but they were in favour of giving employees the choice the wearing a mask.

“If a staff person is still concerned about it . . . I can’t see why that can’t be a bit of a staff policy,” said mayor Jim Romane.

Becker said council’s comments on staff comfort were “really valid” and he would put that messaging within staff protocols.

“Based on conversation and comfort, employees have the right to make sure they feel safe in the workplace,” said Becker.