Mandatory Masks

At the August 17 regular meeting, Okotoks Town Council passed third reading of a bylaw requiring masks be worn in all indoor municipal spaces, which comes into effect August 24. Council also passed an additional bylaw that would require mandatory masks in all indoor public spaces if the number of active COVID-19 cases in Okotoks reaches 15.  The regulations will require masks to be worn in all indoor municipal facilities including the recreation centre, Pason Arenas, the Municipal Centre and the Eco Centre.

The bylaw excludes children under the age of two, or resistant children five years and under; persons with medical conditions or disabilities, and employees not working with the public or who are separated by a physical barrier. The focus will be on educating the public rather than enforcement.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why has the Town made masks mandatory?

The Town wants to protect the health and safety of all residents. Masks are an additional safety measure and that everyone needs to continue to practice 2-metre physical distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home if they are feeling unwell.

Where do I have to wear a mask?

You are required to wear a mask in any indoor Town space. This includes the Municipal Centre, the Pason Arenas, Recreation Centre, Museum, Art Gallery, Eco Centre, Environmental Education Centre, Foothills Centennial Centre and while using Okotoks On-Demand Transit.

When does this bylaw come into effect?

It becomes effective on August 24.

What are the exemptions to the bylaw?

  • Children under the age of two (2) years;
  • Children under the age of five (5) years who refuse to wear a mask and cannot be persuaded to do so by the caregiver accompanying them;
  • Persons with a medical condition or disability that inhibits their ability to safely wear a mask;
  • Persons who are unable to safely put on, use, or remove a mask without assistance;
  • Persons who are actively consuming food or drink at an Indoor Municipal public place that offers food or beverage services;
  • Persons who have temporarily removed their masks for the purposes of:
  • Receiving or providing services that require removal of the mask;
  • Actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity; or
  • For emergency or medical purposes;
  • Persons who require accommodation in accordance with the Alberta Human Rights Act, RSA 2000 c. A-25.5;
  • Employees working at an indoor Municipal public place within an area designated for them where public access is prohibited; and;
  • Employees working at an Indoor Municipal public place who are within or behind a physical barrier that separates them from the public and creates a barrier that blocks respiratory droplets

How do I wear a mask when I’m swimming or participating in a fitness class at the Recreation Centre?

You do not have to wear the mask in the water. You are only required to wear one when you are arriving and leaving and while on the pool deck.

Do I have to wear a mask on the ice?

When you are on the ice you will not need to wear a mask.  If you are anywhere else in the facility, you are required to wear a mask.

Do my children have to wear masks?

Children two and under are not required to wear masks as well as children five and under who are resistant and those with disabilities.

Do my children have to wear masks at their out-of-school programs run by the Town?

Whenever children over the age of five are in a Town facility they are required to wear masks.

Will the Town supply masks if I don't have one?

The Town will have a limited supply available in the first week or so for anyone who has forgotten to bring one. However, the bylaw states that everyone needs to enter the building wearing a mask so we encourage everyone to purchase individual masks.

What type of enforcement is the Town doing to make the public comply with the bylaw?

The focus will be on encouraging the public to voluntarily comply with the bylaw and to help the public better understand that wearing masks is the right thing to do to protect each other. Individuals that actively disregard the bylaw could be subject to a $100 fine.

Is the Town considering making masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces?

Council has passed a bylaw that would require mandatory masks in all indoor public spaces if the number of active COVID-19 cases in Okotoks reaches 15. This would be in effect until actives cases are under 15 for 30 consecutive days.

How was the number of cases set at 15 to invoke Bylaw 31-20 to make masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces?

The number of 15 arises from the definition of a community under watch status by Alberta Health Services.  A ‘watch’ status with AHS is defined as ‘the province is monitoring the risk and discussing with local government(s) and other community leaders the possible need for additional health measures’.  It requires 2 indicators:  at least 10 active cases and more than 50 active cases per 100,000.  This translates to 15 cases based on Okotoks' population of approximately 30,000.

Why do we need a bylaw when Alberta Health hasn't made masks mandatory?

Our bylaw is invoked when the Town reaches the ‘watch’ status and additional measures are required.  Council believed this step to be in alignment with AHS direction.