The City of Red Deer has no immediate plans to follow Calgary’s example and discuss increasing penalties for people not complying with municipal mask-wearing rules during the pandemic.
Mayor Tara Veer said she believes “generally, Red Deerians have been compliant with public health measures.” Council will find out more details in the next few weeks, when an update is expected from the city’s emergency management co-ordinator, Veer added.
Data about non-compliance complaints and whether any penalties have been issued will be part of the presentation that will inform council about whether there’s a need to extend the municipal mask-wearing bylaw, which is still active, although superseded by a provincial mask law.
The local penalty for COVID bylaw-breakers is now $50.
Veer said council could have a discussion at that time, depending on what the data shows. She said she’s “grateful” that most people appear to be “buying in, and making some short-term sacrifices” for the good of the community.
On Monday, most Calgary city councillors supported first reading of a bylaw that would raise fines to $500 from $100 for people not complying with the municipal mask-wearing bylaw. Since support wasn’t unanimous, Calgary council can’t give final approval until the next council meeting.
The provincial government recently doubled fines to $2,000 for those violating COVID-19 rules.
Justice Minister Kaycee Madu acknowledged that most Albertans have been compliant with public health rules, but he said a small number of rule-breakers have been driving up virus cases in the province and the higher penalties are aimed at getting these people to change their behaviour.
Alberta has the most cases of COVID-19, per capita, in the country and one of the highest rates in North America — although new cases have fallen to about 1,500 a day since the latest restrictions were announced last week.
Red Deer’s cases fell from a record high of 911 new cases on Saturday to 874 on Monday.