South Peace News
Get your masks ready!
The Town of High Prairie passed a mandatory face covering bylaw at its Nov. 10 meeting.
Citizens will be required to wear a mask if COVID-19 cases in the Big Lakes County region reported by Alberta Health Services reaches 15.
The motion passed 4-2 with councillors Arlen Quartly and Judy Stenhouse voting against.
Each councillor spoke in favour or against the bylaw. Councillor Brian Gilroy said he spoke to about 30-40 people and it was 60-40 in favour. He asked other councillors if they sought the public’s opinion.
Councillor Judy Stenhouse said she spoke to “a lot of people”.
“My feedback was the same as yours,” she told Gilroy.
But she stood firm on her opposition to the bylaw.
“…there is no facts backing the face masks…stopping the spread,” she said
She added Dr. Deena Hinshaw was on record saying wearing masks was at the “lower end of priorities” to do to stop the spread of COVID.
“I’m still against this bylaw for town council. If the [Government of Alberta] wants it, so be it.”
She added it was ironic the decision was being made the day before Remembrance Day, when soldiers fought for freedom of choice.
Mayor Brian Panasiuk called it a “polarized” topic.
“It’s a divisive topic. That would be my comments.”
Councillor Michael Long strongly supports the bylaw, and said perhaps response was received on how the bylaw was presented. He said people he spoke to were 70-30 in favour.
“Overall, I think people are resolved it’s coming,” he added. “No one is happy, it’s a fact of life.”
Councillor Donna Deynaka said response was mixed.
“Some are vehemently for it, some are vehemently against it,” she said.
“I think, eventually, as Councillor Long says, a mandatory mask order from the government is potentially [coming].”
Meanwhile, Councillor Arlen Quartly heard strong opinions from being told “I’m not a sheep” to “I won’t do as I’m told”.
“Nobody wants it,” he said.
“It’s my right, I can do whatever I want,” Quartly was told.
He added people told him they would not shop in stores that required a mask.
“They won’t contaminate people,” replied Long.
“You’re so adamant,” she told Long. “If you’re wanting it for 15, why not do it at zero? I can’t support it.”
Stenhouse reiterated her stance to let each business in High Prairie decide for themselves rather than being told by government, noting the day of the meeting local COVID cases locally stood at zero.
Mask bylaw guidelines
All persons shall wear a face covering at all times while in an indoor, enclosed, or substantially enclosed public place or in any public transportation vehicle.
Exemptions are as follows:
- persons under nine years of age.
- persons who are unable to place, use, or remove face coverings without assistance.
- persons providing care or assistance to a person with a disability where a face covering would hinder that caregiving or assistance.
- persons consuming food or drink in designated seating areas or as part of a religious or spiritual ceremony.
- persons engaging in aquatic activities or physical exercise.
- persons engaging in services that require the temporary removal of a face covering.
Where you wear a mask
The mask bylaw does not apply to:
- schools and other educational facilities.
- hospitals and health care facilities.
- childcare facilities.
- areas exclusively accessed or used by public places employees, provided that physical barriers or physical distancing practices are implemented between any person not required to wear a face covering under this exemption and any other person.
A public place must prominently display a sign, in the form and containing the content set out in Schedule “A”, in a location that is visible to a person immediately upon entering the public place or a public transportation vehicle.
- Section F1: failure to wear a face covering where required – $100 for first offence and $200 for second and subsequent offences.
- Section F2: failure of a business to display prescribed signage – $200 for first offence and $400 for second and subsequent offences.
- Section F3: interference with a person in the exercise or performance of the person’s powers pursuant to this bylaw – $250 for first offence and $500 for second and subsequent offences.
NOTE: Fines will be given at the peace officer’s discretion, with an emphasis on education first.