Edmonton mayor can 'virtually guarantee' masking bylaw will be lifted before the end of the year

Edmonton’s mayor is sharing insight into when the city’s face covering bylaw could be repealed.

Before the mask bylaw can be fully lifted, Don Iveson said “an abundance of caution is required” to not jeopardize the reopening.

During a media scrum, Iveson said recent data suggests Alberta could be at 50 per cent second dose coverage by the middle of July, but Edmonton doctors have requested the province wait until 70 per cent of Albertans are fully immunized before lifting health measures.

“I’m trying to get to the bottom of what would be a sensible and reasonable place to say, ‘OK, we’ve got enough protection from the second dose.’”

Iveson said he wants to err on the side of caution, and will make an evidence-based decision with council in the coming months.

“The last thing we want is to get cavalier and wind up in a situation where these struggling small businesses are forced to shut down again in a fourth wave driven by the Delta variant,” Iveson explained.

“I want to avoid that, I think we all want to avoid that.”

The provincial masking order will be lifted when Alberta enters Stage 3 of the reopening plan, two weeks after 70 per cent of eligible Albertans have received their first dose of a vaccine.

During a press conference on Monday, Tyler Shandro, Alberta’s minister of health, said the province will continue to do their research in other jurisdictions to assess second dose protection against COVID-19 and the variants before no longer recommending masks.

“I think this is us moving from a pandemic to an endemic,” he said.

“As we move to greater community protection, we are going to continue to live with the virus in our community and we can do it while assessing our own risk profile as each individual Albertan."

“I can virtually guarantee that we will be in a state where we can lift the mask bylaw well before the end of the year,” Iveson said.

“It will come off sooner rather than later.”