Iveson says Edmonton's mask mandate may be repealed before end of year, heeds call from doctors to wait until majority have second dose


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Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson says he is heeding a call from doctors to keep the city’s mask bylaw in place until 70 per cent of eligible residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Although the city’s mandatory masking mandate is not set to expire until Dec. 31, Iveson said at a Tuesday news conference it’s likely to be repealed before then. But he expressed concern about lifting it in step with the final stage of the Alberta government’s reopening plan, which is expected to take effect in late June or early July and will end all COVID-19 restrictions including the provincial mask mandate.

“That does raise the risk, particularly in the busier and higher density parts of the province, which are not just Edmonton and Calgary, but where the risk is perhaps most acute and where hospitals are … still taxed by the third wave,” he said, adding that a patchwork of different regional rules could lead to confusion.


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Last week, the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association sent a letter to Iveson and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi asking them to keep their masking mandates in place until 70 per cent of residents have both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and expressing concern about the pace of the province’s plan, given that a variant first identified in India is able to infect two-thirds of people who have only had a single dose.

The association noted that fully easing restrictions – including the provincial mask mandate – in late June or early July will likely lead to super-spreader events and jeopardize the reopening of schools and workplaces in the fall.

Iveson said he has taken the committee’s advice “very” seriously throughout the pandemic.

“They have generally been right when they’ve issued warnings about decisions being taken prematurely with respect to reopening. They have been right every time,” said Iveson.

Council will discuss how to move forward on the mask bylaw later in the month. For his part, Iveson said he will consult with experts to determine how to vote on the issue.

The final stage of the province’s reopening plan will take effect two weeks after 70 per cent of Albertans aged 12 and older receive their first dose. Nearly 66.7 per cent have gotten a first dose to date.

Several council members expressed concern about the pace of the province’s reopening plan during a Tuesday meeting of the emergency advisory committee, where they were updated on the city’s plan to relaunch city programs and services.


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City manager Andre Corbould said the city’s reopening plans – which will include reopening indoor spaces at the zoo, fitness centres, and arenas this week – will still be cautious. Under Stage 2, facilities will be limited to 33 per cent of fire code capacity, and precautions like masking and distancing will still be in effect.

“Even when we’re in Stage 3, it’s not a sign that the pandemic is over. It’s simply a sign that we’re at a point where we can potentially lift some restrictions.”

Administration plans to offer recommendations on masking for council to consider in this month.

– With files from The Canadian Press




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