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Sturgeon County lifts mask requirement

Still good idea to wear them, says Hnatiw
0209 MorinMasks CC 3022
CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

Masks are no longer required in indoor public spaces and public vehicles in Sturgeon County as of Monday, but the county’s mayor says wearing one is still a great idea.

Sturgeon County’s mandatory mask requirement for indoor public spaces and public vehicles lifted Sept. 14.

County council passed a bylaw on Aug. 20 that required people to wear face coverings while in indoor, enclosed or mostly enclosed public places or public vehicles in Sturgeon County. At the time, COVID-19 cases in the county had spiked to an all-time high of 26, and Alberta Health Service had put it on its watch list.

The bylaw included many exemptions, a ban on harassing people who are exempt from wearing a mask and a $100 fine for breaking its provisions. The bylaw was not to be invoked unless the county was under a COVID-19 watch, and was not to be revoked until the county spent 14 consecutive days free of such a watch.

Sturgeon County dropped off the watch list on Aug. 31, so the mandatory mask requirement expired on Sept. 14, Mayor Alanna Hnatiw said. County staff would continue to wear masks when dealing with the public.

“I’m very grateful for the steps residents took,” Hnatiw said, noting she had seen an uptick in mask use in recent weeks.

“We’re off the list and I hope the county stays off it.”

Bylaw officers did not issue any tickets under the bylaw as council had asked them to emphasize public education, Hnatiw said.

Masks may no longer be required in the county, but Hnatiw encouraged residents to continue to wear masks in public, practise physical distancing and hand hygiene, and use the ABTraceTogether app. COVID-19 numbers are on the rise throughout this region and could easily spread to Sturgeon – 19 recent cases in the county had been traced back to two people from Edmonton.

“Nothing is a magic bullet,” Hnatiw said, but we could keep the economy open by using every tool at our disposal to slow the spread of COVID-19 and.

Sturgeon County had four active COVID-19 cases as of Sept. 14.

The towns of Legal, Bon Accord, and Gibbons did not have and were not currently considering mandatory mask bylaws, town officials told the Gazette. Morinville was set to review a mask bylaw at its committee of the whole meeting Sept. 15.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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