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City doing prep work for potential mask bylaw

The groundwork is being laid for a potential draft mandatory mask bylaw in Grande Prairie. At its meeting Monday, city council asked for the preparation work to be done, without making a decision on whether or not non-medical masks would eventually become mandatory in indoor spaces in the city.

“The intent there is to encourage residents to have good factual information and to encourage them to voluntarily wear masks where physical distancing isn’t possible,” explains Mayor Bill Given. “I think council really demonstrated that we have a strong belief in Grande Prairie resident’s desire to help ensure the safety of one another.”

The draft bylaw, Given says, will allow the city to be prepared should mandating masks become necessary sometime down the line. He says one of the main thresholds could be case numbers, but they’ll be looking for any health-related information that would give a better idea of when one would be appropriate.

“Any bylaw or potential bylaw should include public health triggers that would indicate when we should be moving forward with the bylaw and making that mandatory requirement come into place,” he says.

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Given adds, it would be important to also include triggers for when the bylaw could be removed.

“Coronavirus will be with us in our community and globally for some time, and we may see flare-ups from time to time,” he says. “I think council acknowledged that nobody wants to put in place an ongoing mandatory requirement, this may be something we need to have in place and then remove that mandate, or we may never have to use it if Grande Prairie residents follow all public health advice.”

Before a decision on any possible bylaw is made, the city will also be developing and releasing a public education campaign on face coverings.

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