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Mask mandate in Olds under consideration

Bylaw proposes mandatory mask wearing in all public indoor spaces once case threshold met
MVT stock mask
Town of Olds council is expected to discuss a proposed bylaw mandating mask use in certain circumstances during Monday's (Nov. 23) council meeting. File photo

OLDS — Council is looking at passing a bylaw that would make masks mandatory in all buildings owned or leased by the town as well as in “public indoor spaces” or “public vehicles.” 

It would come into effect when at least 10 active cases of COVID-19 have occurred in town, as reported by Alberta Health Services. 

It would remain in effect until the number of cases falls below 10 for at least 30 days or a watch designation is rescinded, whichever is later. 

As of the end of day Nov. 18, Olds had seven active cases, according to the province's relaunch status map.

The proposed bylaw is up for discussion and passage during Monday’s (Nov. 23) council meeting. It’s possible that the bylaw could receive all three readings, at which time it would come into law immediately after being signed by Town of Olds Mayor Michael Muzychka and chief administrative officer Michael Merritt. 

As the bylaw is currently drafted, the emphasis would be on warnings and education. Bylaw officers would issue warnings to offenders when necessary. However, if warnings don’t seem to work, offenders could be ticketed. 

According to the proposed bylaw, those who fail to obey the bylaw could face a fine of $100. Those who fail to place a sign regarding the bylaw in an indoor place could be fined $200. 

Administration's background information on the bylaw says businesses are not expected to deny services to customers but are required to inform them about the bylaw. 

"The primary responsibility for a business would be having customers be made aware of the bylaw and having their employees wear masks as required by the bylaw," community services director Doug Wagstaff wrote in an email.

The bylaw includes a long list of exemptions, including children aged nine and under, and anyone who has temporarily removed their mask to participate in an athletic or fitness activity. 

Also exempted are people with a medical condition or disability that that makes it difficult for them to safely wear a mask. 

People who are actively consuming food or drink in a restaurant or bar are also exempted, as are schools or post-secondary institutions such as Olds College or businesses providing daycare. 

People involved in emergency or medical assistance are also exempted.