Temporary Face Coverings Bylaw update and repeal criteria presented to City Council

Calgary City Council was updated on the Temporary COVID-19 Face Coverings Bylaw (26M2020) that began on August 1, 2020 requiring face coverings in indoor public premises and public vehicles. Administration recommended the bylaw remain in effect, and scheduled reporting to Council as the best approach to address potential amendments or the repeal of the bylaw.

“The objectives of the bylaw are to increase usage of face coverings to help lower transmissions of the virus and to keep Calgary’s economy open,” says Kay Choi, Manager, Strategic Services, Calgary Community Standards. “Early indications are that the Temporary COVID-19 Face Coverings Bylaw is contributing to those intended objectives.”

Since the bylaw went into effect there has been a significant increase in usage of face coverings in public premises and public vehicles. A Citizen Perspectives COVID-19 snapshot survey of 500 Calgarians was conducted beginning August 18, 2020, where 89 per cent of respondents reported always wearing a face covering in public and confined spaces. This is a marked improvement compared to the 34 per cent who reported always doing so in the same survey prior to the temporary bylaw coming into effect. The survey also indicates that the majority of Calgarians (88 per cent) support the Temporary Face Coverings Bylaw.

“Ongoing monitoring and reporting to Council ensures transparency, the ability to address unforeseen circumstances, and effectiveness of the bylaw,” says Choi. “It is important for Calgarians to understand when the bylaw may be repealed. Determining a specific date or matrix target does not allow the flexibility that is required to respond to local changing priorities, the evolving nature of the virus, or new evidence with regard to face coverings.”

Administration anticipates the bylaw would most likely be repealed under one or more of the following three scenarios:

• Local metrics, including transmission rates (reproductive value), infections, hospitalizations, patients in intensive care, and deaths are at a sufficiently low level that medical experts agree that face coverings are no longer a recommended tool in mitigating the spread of the virus.

• A safe and effective vaccine has seen sufficient local levels of uptake, or a safe and effective treatment has been identified, such that medical experts agree that face coverings are no longer recommended in in mitigating the spread of the virus.

• Medical experts, including Alberta Health Services, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the World Health Organization retract their messaging on the use of face coverings, based on evidence, in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

In the event there is a sudden reversal in the medical advice that face coverings are no longer beneficial, Administration would return to the next possible Council meeting to have the bylaw repealed.

On July 21, 2020 Council passed the Temporary COVID-19 Face Coverings Bylaw based on recommendations from the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta, Chief Public Health Officer for Canada and the World Health Organization to wear face coverings to limit the spread of COVID-19, where physical distancing cannot be maintained. On August 24, 2020 Administration updated Council on the implementation of the temporary face coverings bylaw and the potential for schools to be regulated under the bylaw.

Calgary Community Standards has received over 600 reports of concerns through 311 related to people not wearing face coverings in a public place or businesses not displaying signage. Two tickets for failure to wear a face covering where required have been issued after attempts to gain compliance through education were unsuccessful.

More information on the Face Coverings Bylaw is available on