City Adopts Mandatory Face Covering Bylaw

Medicine Hat – On Wednesday, Dec. 2, City Council passed Bylaw #4637 - Mandatory Face Coverings, which introduces the mandatory use of face coverings in public places and public vehicles in an effort to decrease the rate of COVID-19 virus transmission.

“The city maintains the view that public health is not under municipal jurisdiction and that our residents are responsible and capable enough to take advice from public health officials and do the right thing. However, with the recent surge in local positive cases and significant feedback from our residents, it is clear our community is looking for this decision at the local level,” says Mayor Ted Clugston. “We are also trying to relieve the pressure on our local business owners and operators. They want to follow all guidelines to ensure they can stay open, but they need the support of a bylaw to enforce mask use. It’s not fair to lay that burden on front line staff.”

The bylaw identifies an appropriate face covering as a medical or non-medical mask, or other face covering, that fully covers the nose, mouth and chin so as to create a barrier and reduce the transmission of respiratory droplets. The following examples are not acceptable face coverings: neck gaiter, neck warmer, or balaclava. Certain face shields are also not acceptable under the bylaw.

Children under two years of age are exempt from wearing a face covering, as are those who are at a public place that serves food or beverages, and are seated at a table or bar for the purpose of consuming food or drink. People participating in an athletic activity, theatre performance, or dance are also exempt, provided that all other current health orders are obeyed. For a full list of exemptions, please view the full bylaw.

“This is one of the most divisive issues this council has faced, and we have weighed this matter very carefully. I fully recognize that there are a wide range of opinions on mask use, but we are asking the community to find peace with this decision and treat one another with respect and kindness,” adds Clugston. “I know our community can get through this challenging time together.”

The Face Covering bylaw will come into force on Friday, Dec. 4. Owners and operators of public places are required to display bylaw signage by Friday, Dec. 11. For more information, and to download signage, please visit www.medicinehat.ca/covid19.





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