Calgary councillor supports extending face mask bylaw due to Delta variant uncertainty

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Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal has announced his intention to vote against repealing Calgary's face mask bylaw and is encouraging his colleagues on council to do the same.

In a statement released Friday morning, Chahal said he believes council should hold the line "until we are certain the Delta variant threat is at bay."

"I want the province's reopening to succeed," said Chahal. "I want us all to enjoy a beautiful Alberta summer, free of the pandemic. We are so close.

"Still, hosting the Calgary Stampede means the next month is critical. There will be visitors from all over the province gathering in celebration. Many will be from areas in Alberta where vaccination rates are below 30 per cent, and there will be many unvaccinated children."

The province did away with its face covering mandate effective July 1 when Alberta entered Stage 3 of its reopening plan. Calgary's bylaw remains in effect pending the outcome of the previously scheduled July 5 council vote on a potential extension to July 31as recommended by the city.

"A more cautious approach to this pandemic would have saved many lives," stated Chahal. "I am grateful to my colleagues for having had the foresight in August 2020 to mandate a mask bylaw ahead of the provincial government. I urge them to exercise their vote on July 5 with the same leadership and clarity. 

"Many bad decisions have been made. Appeals to personal responsibility alone have not resulted in reduced case numbers. It is political malpractice to shy away from making the hard but correct decision. History has shown us that those most vulnerable to the spread of COVID are front-line workers, many of whom call northeast Calgary home. I have a responsibility to do what I can to make sure my constituents are safe, regardless of the popularity of the decision."

Chahal says he will "gladly accept" criticism for what some might view as an overly cautious approach should Alberta's Stage 3 go well.

"A few more weeks of mandatory masking is a small price to pay to increase the odds of 'the best Alberta summer ever,' as articulated by our Premier."

Edmonton's mask bylaw was removed effective July 1 following a narrow 7-6 council vote held June 25.

My thoughts on Calgary's Face Coverings Bylaw, which is being debated at Monday's Council meeting. #yyccc pic.twitter.com/RFz3KEv092

— George Chahal (@ChahalGeorge) July 2, 2021