Nearly a year after Calgary implemented its mandatory mask bylaw, city councillors have voted to repeal most of the city’s mask rules.
Council voted 10-4 on Monday in favour of repealing the bylaw that had mandated mask use at all city facilities, malls, retail businesses, places of worship and public transit, however because the vote wasn’t unanimous, it still had to pass a third reading.
A special meeting of council was called for Monday afternoon, which lasted less than five minutes and saw council once again vote 10-4 in favour.
“What you saw today was actually a very broad consensus of council, just agreeing on the right way to move forward based on the data,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi prior to the third reading vote.
Couns. Druh Farrell, Jyoti Gondek, Gian-Carlo Carra and George Chahal voted against repealing the bylaw.
“I’m a little disappointed,” said Gondek after the first vote.
“I think we could’ve stood to wait four more weeks, just to keep people protected and safe, but council’s made a decision.”
Regardless of the vote, provincial rules stipulate that masks will still be required while riding on transit as well as in taxis and ride-sharing vehicles. Certain health care settings will also still require a face covering.
The rest of Alberta’s provincial mask rules were dropped on July 1 when the province moved into its final stage of reopening.
Council also voted in favour of requiring mask use in city building and city-owned vehicles by a vote of 11-3.
“It doesn’t mean the masks go away overnight,” said Coun. Jeromy Farkas.
“We still have masks in places like transit, taxi cabs and it looks like in city facilities. So, I think this is a good step.”
As of June 24, Calgary bylaw and police had issued 555 tickets for failing to wear a mask since the mandate was implemented on Aug. 1, 2020.