The City of Red Deer will not require citizens to wear masks, the mayor said in a statement Friday.
Earlier this week, Calgary passed a controversial policy to make masks mandatory as of Aug. 1, and Edmonton is moving toward requiring people to wear coverings on public transit.
Those discussions prompted a response from Mayor Tara Veer.
“Implementing a mandatory masking policy in public spaces needs to be considered with other health orders and in context with the overall local severity of the pandemic,” said Veer.
“The caseload in the region is absolutely critical to the city’s consideration of implementing a mandatory mask policy.”
As of Friday, the City of Red Deer has 11 active COVID-19 cases, with 40 recovered. The central zone continues to see a rising caseload, with 161 active cases in the region, including 33 hospitalizations and seven people in the ICU.
Veer noted the city’s decision may be revisited if the province changes its direction on mask wearing.
She explained that at the moment, the increase in virus cases across the city is concerning, but can be managed.
“The city continues to follow the number of cases in Red Deer and the central zone health region very closely,” she said.
“The recent uptick in cases in the region is concerning and serves as a reminder of the importance of following all public health orders to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our community.”
In Thursday’s provincial update, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the province still isn’t considering a mandatory mask policy for several reasons.
“Before we would implement provincewide measures, I think we would need to consider whether that same measure is required across the province.
“I think a concern that has been expressed to me, and that I share, is that we could inadvertently, if we were focusing too much on the question of masking, we could distract from all of the other measures that are critically important,” she said.
“There is some evidence to suggest, for example, consistent physical distancing, when that is achieved, is more effective than masking.”