EDMONTON — Masks in public indoor spaces will no longer be necessary in Edmonton as of the province’s full reopening on Canada Day, Edmonton councillors decided in a narrow vote on Friday.
The councillors voted 7-6 in favour of dropping the rule as of Stage 3 of the Alberta government’s “Open for Summer” plan.
Mayor Don Iveson, Ward 4’s Aaron Paquette, Ward 8’s Ben Henderson, Ward 10’s Michael Walters, Ward 1’s Andrew Knack, and Ward 6’s Scott McKeen all voted against the motion.
The amendment passed Friday would see the city’s mandatory face coverings bylaw become effective again if the province were to backtrack to Stage 1 or 2 of reopening, or if the chief medical officer of health required face coverings in public places.
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To extend Edmonton’s mandatory mask bylaw or not is back before councillors on Friday.
A motion to deactivate the public health measure on Canada Day, in lockstep with the province’s full reopening, was defeated by one vote on Tuesday.
That day, council decided to hold a special debate and a third reading on the vote.
The first two readings passed by a vote of 7-6, with only Coun. Aaron Paquette voting “no” to approve the third reading.
Had the motion passed, the bylaw would have been deactivated and no longer enforced, but could be reactivated by council. The bylaw would also have been automatically reactivated by provincial medical health order or if the province moved back to Stage 2 or Stage 1 of reopening.
Councillors were weighing the potential effects of dropping the rule on local business, the possibility of a fourth wave in the fall, and Alberta’s COVID-19 track record.
Earlier in the week, St. Albert voted unanimously to lift local rules on Canada Day with the province.
Also in the capital region, Fort Saskatchewan repealed on June 22 its own mandatory face coverings bylaw, which was superseded by provincial orders. Leduc suspended its mandatory face coverings bylaw in March, and Strathcona County let its rule expire in March, as well.
Calgary decided to delay making a decision on its mask bylaw until July 5 to allow more time for residents to get a second dose.
Edmonton began requiring masks in all public indoor spaces on Aug. 1, 2020.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Steven Dyer
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