COVID-19: Calgary extends mask bylaw, aligns vaccine passport bylaw with provincial requirements

A clause to automatically repeal Calgary’s mask bylaw was removed Monday afternoon.

And the city’s vaccine passport bylaw was revised to fall closer in line with the provincial vaccine passport requirements.

Before today, the rules on the books had the mask bylaw automatically be repealed if the case rate fell below 100 active cases per 100,000 people for 28 days straight. As of Thursday, it was 83.8 per 100,000.

If trends continued, the bylaw could have ended on Nov. 26.

Read more: COVID-19: Alberta announces 17 more deaths, number of patients hospitalized with disease drops

Now, the decision to pull the bylaw will be made by a council decision following regular COVID-19 updates from city officials like CEMA.

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The mask bylaw change was passed in an 11-4 vote with councillors Chu, Demong, McLean and Sharp in opposition.

Last week, Edmonton city council made amended its mask bylaw to have it remain in place for the foreseeable future. They also decided to look at adding future “triggers” in the future, such as vaccination rate among children, ICU capacity below 50 per cent or the province rescinding its indoor mask mandate.

Read more: Edmonton mask bylaw to remain in place: ‘We are in the middle of a pandemic’

Matt Zabloski, strategist with the city’s community standards department, said city officials are “a little bit less than comfortable with (using) those metrics.”

The city also changed its vaccine passport bylaw, adding food courts and allowing vaccine credentials to be checked at the counter rather than at the front door of quick service restaurants. QR codes are also the only way to prove vaccination now.

All of those changes bring the city’s bylaw in line with the provincial Restrictions Exemptions Program.

Click to play video: 'Proof of COVID-19 vaccine QR code mandatory in Alberta starting Monday' Proof of COVID-19 vaccine QR code mandatory in Alberta starting Monday

Proof of COVID-19 vaccine QR code mandatory in Alberta starting Monday

The vaccine passport bylaw amendments passed unanimously.

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The two bylaws allow city bylaw officers to enforce the COVID-19 measures, without which enforcement falls on police and provincial health officers.

Calgary city council also heard an update on the response to a vaccine policy for city employees.

Read more: Calgary transit union president warns of service disruptions related to city vaccination policy

Of the 15,000 city employees, 89 per cent are fully vaccinated, three per cent are partially vaccinated and eight per cent have not yet been vaccinated — an improvement of one per cent among unvaccinated city workers.

City of Calgary director of environmental and safety management Christopher Collier called the uptake during the first two weeks of the vaccine policy’s transition period “fantastic.”

“Approximately 92 per cent of employees are either fully vaccinated or partially vaccinated, which is quite a bit higher than the provincial average, so that’s very good news,” Collier said.

Read more: City of Calgary says most employees are vaccinated against COVID-19

City employees had until Nov. 1 to declare their vaccination status. Workers not fully vaccinated had until Dec. 1 to get their doses before they would have to submit twice-weekly testing on their own time and at their own expense. Further discipline including paid and unpaid leaves of absence could also come into play.

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Collier told council there have been 37 leaves of absence to date, but said there is “a little bit of lag time” and called the number “on the low side.”

Eight per cent of the city’s workforce would represent about 1,200 workers.

Click to play video: 'Calgary retailers offer incentives to find, retain staff for expected busy holiday shopping season' Calgary retailers offer incentives to find, retain staff for expected busy holiday shopping season

Calgary retailers offer incentives to find, retain staff for expected busy holiday shopping season

The vaccination rate in Calgary is nearing the 90 per cent double-vaccination threshold, with 86.9 per cent of Calgrians having two doses and 91.2 per cent receiving one.

The city’s mobile vaccination clinics — set to run through November — have provided 1,964 doses, including 630 first doses.

“This represents more than 600 individuals who have started down the path to vaccination, lowering their risk to COVID-19 and creating an even broader ripple effect of protecting their loved ones in the community,” CEMA Chief Sue Henry said.

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— with files from Emily Mertz, Global News

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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