Calgary councillors call for a return of mandatory masking indoors amid rising case numbers

Two Calgary councillors are calling on Mayor Naheed Nenshi to reconvene city council for a special meeting to discuss reinstating Calgary’s mask bylaw.

Both Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell and Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek took to Twitter on Wednesday evening to push for the return of mandatory masking amid rising COVID-19 cases in Alberta.

On Wednesday, Alberta reported 678 new COVID-19 cases in the province. The number of new variant cases identified on Aug. 17 was 285. In total, there are 4,806 active variant cases in Alberta.

Read more: COVID-19: SAIT, Bow Valley College add indoor mask mandates

“Time for an urgent meeting of council to reinstate the mask bylaw,” Farrell said while retweeting provincial COVID-19 numbers.

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“Premier Kenney will not act, so we must,” Gondek said.

Gondek used a series of four tweets to push the mayor to call for the meeting “immediately.”

She wants the city to reinstate the mask mandate for indoor, publicly accessible spaces where physical distancing is not possible.

“We must keep businesses open with protective measures and keep kids and immunocompromised Calgarians safe,” Gondek tweeted.

Speaking to Global News on Thursday morning, Gondek said it was alarming to see the province report over 600 new COVID-19 cases the day before.

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“That’s why I called, once again, for a special meeting of council.”

Gondek is also pushing for changes to protect City of Calgary employees, saying she’d like to see city-owned facilities and civic partners require either proof of vaccination or a negative rapid test result for employees to work on-site.

“I think that’s important for us to do as an employer,” she said. “It’s a good example to set.

“I think by demonstrating leadership, it will give more businesses and organizations the strength to say, this is what’s happening in other places (and say), ‘Let’s do the same thing.’”

Read more: Town of Banff mandates COVID-19 vaccines for employees. What are the legalities?

She also thinks municipal staff who want to work from home should be allowed to.

“There’s a lot of people with young kids and elders that they’re caring for. So we need to be respectful of that,” Gondek said.

“I think it’s really important to make sure we’re managing the particular point in time that we’re in.

“I also think it’s incredibly significant that our provincial government has basically washed their hands of managing the pandemic — and they’ve pushed the responsibility to business owners, to schools, to local governments.

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“I think that’s why we need to be having these meetings, to say, ‘What do we need to do in this particular situation right now?’ And, ‘What will we do if the scenario continues where we become responsible for public health?’

“The mayor can call it quite easily,” Gondek said. “It’s much more difficult for councillors to band together as a majority and call for a meeting. There’s a lot of red tape to do that. I wish the mayor would just call for one.”

Gondek is running for mayor in Calgary’s October election. Farrel, meanwhile, will not be seeking re-election in Ward 7.

– With files from Matthew Conrod

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