Sturgeon County makes masks mandatory in public spaces

Sturgeon County has made the wearing of masks mandatory in all public spaces following a special meeting of County Council Thursday afternoon. The special meeting was a response to a recent increase in COVID-19 cases and Sturgeon’s regional COVID-19 classification being moved from open to watch.

As of Thursday, Sturgeon County had 21 cases, five more than on Tuesday. Morinville currently classed as an open region has 5 active cases. That number is unchanged since Tuesday. Morinville is a separate region from Sturgeon County, given its population exceeding 10,000.

Following the decision, face coverings will now be required to be worn in Sturgeon County’s public spaces as well as County-owned facilities within the Town of Morinville. The bylaw does not apply to children under 10 and those who cannot wear a face covering for health or religious reasons. (See below for a full list of exemptions).

The Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw takes effect immediately and applies to all indoor or substantially enclosed indoor spaces that are available to the public, whether owned privately (e.g. gas station) or by Sturgeon County (e.g. a community hall, Sturgeon Centre) as well as public vehicles (e.g. taxis, shuttles).

“Council has been closely monitoring the situation and with the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, we felt that this was the best way to protect our residents and businesses,” said Sturgeon County Mayor Alanna Hnatiw in a media release Thursday. “From both a health and economic perspective, it’s vital that we do everything we can to slow or prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Hnatiw went on to say the bylaw is temporary and designed to protect people not to frustrate them. “It has been created to be consistent with our neighbouring municipalities who have also mandated face coverings.”

The temporary bylaw will remain active as long as Sturgeon County’s regional COVID-19 classification remains in the watch classification. A watch classification is any region with more than 10 cases and more than 50 cases per 100,000.

“Physical distancing and hand washing is just as important but more challenging to monitor,” said Mayor Hnatiw. “I hope seeing face coverings will remind people to watch their distance as well and wash their hands more frequently. This is a short-term measure to allow us to continue to move around freely and continue to support our local businesses.”

Failure to comply with the bylaw could result in a $100 fine.

Bylaw Exceptions

Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw 1513/20 is exempt for:

  • Children under the age of 10
  • People who are unable to place, use, or remove a face covering without assistance
  • People unable to wear a face-covering due to a mental or physical concern or limitation, or protected ground under the Alberta Human Rights Act
  • People consuming food or drink in designated seating areas or as part of a religious or spiritual ceremony
  • People engaged in physical activities, water activities, or the paid supervision of water activities, or attending within a sauna or steam room
  • Caregivers or those assisting a person with a disability where a Face Covering would hinder that caregiving or assistance
  • People engaging in services that require the temporary removal of a Face Covering
  • Performers who are participating in a theatrical dance or theatrical or musical public performance (if all participants in the performance are able to maintain at least two metres of physical distance from each other and do not enter the areas where the public is viewing the performance
  • People providing or receiving a service that requires personal consultation if that activity occurs in a closed office or meeting room and all participants in the personal consultation are able to maintain physical separation of at least two metres from each other
  • People separated from others by physical barriers or shields such as plexiglass.

This municipal bylaw does not apply to the following places:

  • Schools and other educational facilities
  • Child-care facilities
  • Areas not accessed by the public
  • Platforms or stage areas in places of worship during worship services
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