Even though the City of Airdrie does not currently have a bylaw in place to mandate face coverings in public spaces, some businesses, organizations and public services have started to take the matter into their own hands.
Last week, Airdrie Transit and Airdrie Public Library (APL) each announced they would encourage – or mandate – patrons to wear facemasks. Airdrie Transit has sourced 46,000 masks from the Alberta government and will be handing them out for free on buses and at the South Transit Terminal. APL’s board of directors, meanwhile, approved a new policy which came into effect Aug. 3 requiring staff and visitors to wear a mask at the library.
Contrary to what some people think, Airdrie City council did not decide "not" to enact a mask bylaw when they discussed the issue July 28. Rather, they took a wait-and-see approach, directing staff to draft options for a bylaw that could be implemented in the near future. Those options will come to council Aug. 17.
If Airdrie’s active number of COVID-19 cases spikes, council could very well end up implementing a mask bylaw. As of Aug. 5, there were 16 active cases. If the city's number reaches 35 or more, Alberta Health Services would place Airdrie under “watch status.”
We encourage Airdronians to look at that threshold – 35 active cases – as a challenge. If we can keep the number of cases below that, council will likely not implement a mask-wearing bylaw.
But the best way to keep the number of cases below 35 is to follow the guidelines that health officials have stressed repeatedly throughout this pandemic. Most of these have not been controversial, but for some reason, wearing a facemask has become a highly charged political issue.
Hopefully, we’ll see more businesses and public services follow in the footsteps of APL and Airdrie Transit, and we’ll be able to keep the number of COVID-19 cases in the city low.