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County votes down mandatory mask bylaw

The use of face masks won’t be mandated in County of Grande Prairie-owned buildings. Councillors voted Monday to take no action when it comes to a bylaw that would have outlined when face coverings could be required.

“We are in support of the masks, but we just don’t want to make it mandatory,” explains Councillor Harold Bulford.

Had it been passed, the bylaw would have come into effect if there were 100 combined confirmed cases of COVID-19 between the City and County of Grande Prairie. It would have been removed when the number of cases dropped under that figure for more than 14 consecutive days.

Reeve Leanne Beaupre notes that many local businesses have already implemented mandatory masks and it is important to respect these requirements as they are there to protect staff or to meet requirements for reopening as part of the province’s relaunch strategy.

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“The past few months have been stressful for many, and there is still uncertainty of what is yet to come… we can take pride in how we have managed to minimize the spread of COVID-19 so far, and that is due to the concerted effort of everyone in our community.”

The City of Grande Prairie’s recently passed mandatory mask bylaw uses the 100 consolidated case number as a trigger. It will only require masks to be worn in indoor public spaces when physical distancing via a screen, window, or other physical barrier is not possible.

It wouldn’t apply in schools, hospitals, and health care facilities, parts of public facilities only accessed by staff, and for drivers of public vehicles properly distanced or protected by a shield. Exceptions are also made for children under two, children under five who can’t be persuaded to wear a mask, people who can’t wear one due to a medical or physical concern or who can’t safely put one on without help, and people who are protected under the Alberta Human Rights Act.

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