Banff mask mandate reviewed by town council at Friday meeting

CALGARY — Banff’s town council discussed increasing temporary indoor and outdoor mask mandates in town Friday.

However, the council decided to not make any changes to the bylaw or health measures until they have information from Alberta Health Services advising otherwise.

“I will not support the motion,’” said councillor Brian Standish.

“Not until I’ve received new information that our chief medical officer is misinformed with regards to her decision to allow the removal of masks indoors.”

Council discussed making changes to Bylaw 462, which would temporarily mandate employers to require mask use by employees, unless an acceptable reason was provided.

Some councillors did not see much of a difference between what is in place now and what was being proposed.

Town manager Kelly Gibson said, “right now the bylaw is set up so that if I go into a restaurant, I’m expected to wear a mask, employees are expected to wear a mask. I can take off that mask when I sit down and when I’m eating or drinking.”

DOESN’T ADDRESS PROBLEM

Some councillors felt the amendment did not fully address the problem.

“This really only is directed at our residence and local staff; it doesn’t address the incoming visitors,” Standish said.

Council decided that mask enforcement was best left up to employers. The majority agreed that there is no need to mandate further enforcement.

 “I feel that the first bullet [amendment] is already something that organizations and businesses can do,” said Mayor Corrie DiManno.

Town council also proposed a second part to the amendment that would require people to wear a mask in outdoor public spaces.

That was not supported by the majority of council either.

 “I think we know transmission is lower outdoors and the enforceability of outdoor [mask-use] at this point is going to be quite challenging,” said DiManno.

Council discussed how they felt vaccinations should be where their emphasis and effort is put moving forward.

“We need to focus on improved access to vaccines, increased access to rapid testing, as well as securing isolation accommodations for residence and staff,” said Standish.

Council discussed the idea of creating an incentive on removing mask mandates based on local vaccination rates. Council has not made any decisions related to this, other than they would like to revisit the idea at the next meeting on Sept. 13.

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