AHS receives nearly 20,000 complaints of Albertans not following COVID-19 guidelines

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He said the fact there’s only been a single ticket issued — likely a $50 fine — reflects a preference to educate Calgarians on the bylaw, which makes masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces and within city infrastructure including transit vehicles.

“For us, it’s been more of an issue of education…. That’s been the priority and something we’re trying to instil,” said Zabloski.

He noted children aged under two and people with a medical condition that makes wearing face masks difficult are exempt from the bylaw.

When bylaw officers or police respond to complaints, “the first question is, ‘are you capable of wearing a mask?’” said Zabloski.

A prime concern voiced by Calgarians — often on social media — is a failure to wear masks on public transit. Zabloski noted 19 of the complaints received focus on businesses not providing bylaw signage, which has been resolved through education.

Another 100 inquiries have come from businesses or members of the general public seeking clarification of the bylaw.

The city doesn’t have data on the compliance rate of mask use, but Zabloski said anecdotal observation suggests it’s been high.

“We’re definitely impressed with how Calgarians have picked this up,” he said.

The acceptance of masks has evolved rapidly over the course of the pandemic, said Calgary emergency medicine physician Joe Vipond, an advocate of mandatory masking.

“Earlier on, people wearing masks were sometimes looked on with suspicion. Now, it’s the flip side where you’re likely to be discriminated against if you’re not wearing one,” said Vipond, adding he’s nonetheless pleased with what he sees as a compliance rate of more than 90 per cent.

On Thursday, the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy released a report calling for more public awareness regarding people who are unable to wear face masks due to mental health or other medical reasons.

Masks are considered effective in reducing the spread of potentially virus-carrying airborne droplets exhaled by their wearers.


on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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