January 23rd, 2021

Proof of exemption not required for masking bylaw

By Woodard, Dale on September 4, 2020.

Recreation and Culture manager Robin Harper speaks to reporters as the City is reminding residents that proof of exemption is not required for the masking bylaw. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald

The City of Lethbridge is making it clear they have nothing to do with bylaw exemption cards that have been circulating online in regards to the mandatory mask bylaw.

At a press conference Thursday on the front steps of city hall, Robin Harper, general manager of Recreation & Culture for the City of Lethbridge, said the City is not requiring residents to show proof of their exemption.

“The City is aware of the bylaw exemption cards that have been made available online to residents regarding the temporary mandatory mask bylaw,” said Harper. “These cards are not from the City of Lethbridge and we do not endorse them. We are not requiring residents to show proof of their exemption at any building or retail business.”

Bylaw 6239, enacted Aug. 24, states that a face covering must be worn at all times while in an indoor, enclosed or substantially enclosed public place or in a public vehicle. That includes places like malls, grocery stores, retail businesses, churches, taxi and ride-sharing businesses.

Harper said business are required to post a sign about Bylaw 6239, but they also may have additional policies in place beyond the City’s bylaw.

“The bylaw had a minimum requirement and businesses may choose to implement additional measures to protect their staff and customers. The City is continuing to focus on education and encouraging residents to wear a mask as a way to protect those around them. Please remember to be kind and respectful and compassionate to each other and we all get through this together.”

As for who would distribute the bylaw exemption cards, Harper felt it could be someone looking to make a quick buck.

“You can look at it a couple of different ways,” he said. “Someone has an entrepreneurial spirit and is trying to raise some money. People are going to access that if it’s available, but we don’t endorse that and we are not requiring people to provide proof of an exemption.”

Harper he wasn’t aware of anyone using the bylaw exemption cards at any specific locations.

“But if they’re out there I assume they probably have.”

As for a business inquiring why a customer isn’t wearing a mask or if there is an exemption, Harper said the City is asking the public to provide proof of exemption verbally.

“We’re not requiring providing a doctor’s note or a card that says they’re exempt. We’re relying on people’s honesty to follow the intent and spirit of the bylaw and to state that verbally if they’re asked.

“Education is what we’re focusing on, the benefits of wearing a mask to protect others around you as well as yourself and relying on the community to follow the health guidelines and make sure everybody is safe.”

Harper said in his personal experience he has seen most residents respecting the bylaw.

“When I’ve gone out to shopping centres or grocery stores most people are abiding by the bylaw and any increase is better than no increase.”

For more information on Bylaw 6239, visit: http://www.lethbridge.ca/facecoverings.

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