by Colin Smith
Morinville’s Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw will be gone at the end of June.
At its regular meeting Tuesday Town Council accepted without debate an Administration recommendation that the bylaw be allowed to expire on June 30, its stated repeal date.
Other options presented to Council were repealing the bylaw requiring face coverings be worn in public indoor spaces in Morinville sooner or extending it past June 30.
Community residents are still required by the bylaw to wear face coverings until then.
Face coverings in indoor or enclosed spaces are also required by province-wide COVID-19 health measures announced by Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, on November 6, 2020. That will continue until Stage 3 of the Government of Alberta’s “Open For Summer Plan.”
Stage 3 will be reached two weeks after 70% of Albertans 12 years of age or more have received one dose of vaccine against COVID, expected to be late this month or in early July.
At that point, all health restrictions will be lifted, including a ban on indoor social gatherings. The mandatory face-covering order will likely be revoked at that time.
Morinville’s Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw was approved at a special meeting of Council on November 13.
The bylaw requires the wearing of masks or other close coverings of the nose, mouth, or a transparent face shield in all indoor, enclosed or substantially enclosed public places and public vehicles in Morinville.
It is to remain in force as long as the Town is designated as being in the Alberta Health Services “Watch” Classification, which means having at least 10 active cases and a per capita rate of more than 50 active cases for a population of 100,000, and had an automatic repeal date of March 31.
On the date the bylaw was passed, Morinville had 30 cases, with a rate of 264.7 cases per 100,000.
The final vote on the measure was split five-two. In favour were Mayor Barry Turner, Deputy Mayor Sarah Hall and Councillors Boutestein, Lawrence Giffin and Scott Richardson, with Councillors Rebecca Balanko and Stephen Dafoe in opposition.
Passage of the bylaw followed an earlier failed attempt. In September a bylaw was proposed that would have made face coverings mandatory in enclosed public spaces if the number of active cases in Morinville rose to 10.
The proposed bylaw was defeated in a 4-3 vote, with Mayor Barry Turner and Councillors Nicole Boutestein and Lawrence Giffin in favour, and Deputy Mayor Sarah Hall and Councillors Rebecca Balanko, Stephen Dafoe and Scott Richardson opposed.
When the Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw passed in November was approaching its built-in repeal date Council passed an amendment extending it from March 31 to June 30.
The amendment was opposed by Councillors Rebecca Balanko, Stephen Dafoe and Scott Richardson, and supported by Mayor Barry Turner, Deputy Mayor Nicole Boutestein, and Councillors Lawrence Giffin and Sarah Hall.