There are no plans for the City of Grande Prairie to reinstate a mandatory mask mandate. Mayor Jackie Clayton says there haven’t been any discussions between city council about bringing in more COVID-19 health measures.
Bylaw C-1426 mandated the use of face masks or coverings inside public buildings, with some exceptions. The bylaw was approved in September 2020, with a trigger that activated it when 100 active cases were reported between the City and County of Grande Prairie. It went into effect in October 2020 and expired on January 31, 2021, with the city considering it redundant due to the provincial mandate.
Clayton says the municipality is instead choosing to wait for guidance from the provincial government before potentially reimplementing COVID-19 protocols.
“From the start of the pandemic, we’ve always advocated for the province to take a lead on our collective response to COVID, the province has health care professionals and experts in this field,” she says.
However, Clayton says she and fellow councillors are concerned about the state of affairs at the QEII Hospital. On Friday, Alberta Health Services announced it will be postponing roughly 45 elective surgeries a week indefinitely to create a dedicated COVID-19 unit. Over the weekend, AHS also confirmed nine patients were transferred from the QEII to neighbouring healthcare facilities due to an increase in COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization.
“[Sunday’s] announcement from AHS is absolutely concerning for the City of Grande Prairie,” she says. “We treat people from many different communities in northern Alberta, and we appreciate and like to be updated on how the province sees our region, and how they plan to continue to offer adequate care to our community,” she adds.
Clayton says the city will continue to urge residents to wear a mask if they feel like doing so. She is also urging residents who may not yet be vaccinated to give it serious consideration.
“People need to take responsibility for their healthcare, and the healthcare of others… if you’re going to a large gathering, consider wearing a mask,” she says.
“I believe the people that want to get vaccinated have been vaccinated; I also know that people in our community are really behind small business, and don’t want to see businesses shut down,” she adds. “I do think people are taking consideration about how to take care of their health, and how to make wise choices for themselves.”
As of August 29th, there were 476 active cases of COVID-19 in the City of Grande Prairie.