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High Level Council has passed a Face Coverings Bylaw.
The Bylaw passed Third and Final Reading during Council’s Nov. 23 Regular Meeting. However, it will not immediately come into effect until the Mackenzie region reaches 12 active cases of COVID-19 due to a “trigger clause.”
The number roughly corresponds to the number of active COVID-19 cases required to bring the region under “enhanced” status at the current rate threshold of 50 active cases per 100,000 residents. Alberta Health considers the population of this region to be 24,171 – meaning a single case can raise the rate threshold by just over four.
“I believe that the vast majority of residents understand that there is a real health risk and that we all need to work together to ensure that we are slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the community,” said Mayor Crystal McAteer. “I have a lot of faith in our community and the vast majority of residents have been wearing masks without a bylaw. A mask is just one more tool in the box to help stop the spread.”
Once activated, face coverings would become mandatory in indoor public premises or public vehicles with the following exceptions:
Children under nine;
Those with an underlying certified medical condition or disability that inhibits mask use;
Those unable to place, use, or remove a face covering safely without assistance;
Anyone eating or drinking in a public establishment that offers food or beverage service;
While swimming or engaging in other water activities, engaged in physical exercise or other physical activity – within an area designated for those activities;
Caregivers or those accompanying people with disabilities where a face covering would hinder the accommodation of that person’s disability;
Those who have temporarily removed their face covering to provide or receive a service; and
The operator of a public vehicle while in an area not open to the public, located in or behind a physical barrier, wearing a face shield, or a two-metre separation from the public.
The Town is developing a card system for those who have legitimate reasons for not wearing a mask. Proof of need will be required – for example, a doctor’s note will be required for those seeking exemptions on medical grounds.
The Town has developed several signage options for local businesses to prominently display so that anyone entering that business would immediately see it.
Anyone without a legitimate reason for doing so would be required and expected to don a face covering prior to entering a public space (such as a business) in High Level.
Anyone entering a public space without a mask and without an exemption could be subject to a fine of $100. Any business failing to display proper signage could be subject to a fine of $200.
Once activated, the Bylaw would remain in effect until our region dropped back down to under 12 cases – a return to “clear” status – for two weeks.
We understand this is an extremely difficult time. Everyone has been affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have been directly affected by a COVID-19-related death – there have been more than 500 deaths in the province to date. The only way we are going to prevent further harm to our communities, to our vulnerable populations, to our elders, and to our businesses, is by pulling together and caring for friends, neighbours, and strangers as we would our own families.
Fortunately, this is something High Level residents do best.
Please stay safe, and please take care of each other.
LINK TO FACE COVERINGS BYLAW 1013-20