Saturday marked one week since a bylaw took effect in the city requiring people to wear masks to go inside public places. Now, Edmontonians who don’t feel comfortable wearing a face covering can get an exemption.

“Qualifying individuals can be exempt, and we’ve just issued a program where you can demonstrate proof of exemption by having a card that’s being handed out for free,” said ward three councillor Jon Dzaidyk.

These exemption cards are being handed out at several recreation facilities throughout the city. Officials said 120 were handed out at the Clareview rec centre on Saturday.

“Hopefully that will ease tensions if you’re ever being confronted in a store for supposedly not complying with the bylaw,” he said.

Exemptions to the mandatory mask bylaw are intended for people that have difficulty wearing a mask because of something like a medical condition, but a CTV News Edmonton employee went into a rec centre and asked for a card and was handed this no questions asked.

“We don’t have an exhaustive list. We trust that Edmontonians will be responsible. If we see that this program is being abused there’s a chance that we could refine it,” he said.

 “I don’t yet believe providing a mask exemption card is going to render the bylaw useless,” said ward one councillor Andrew Knack.

“What I try to remind myself is that’s a very select number of people who are being inconsiderate about the health and well-being of their family, their friends, their community, their city”

Knack says bylaw officers reported an 80 per cent compliance rate last weekend, and he plans to monitor those rates.

“If suddenly we started seeing that compliance drop to 60 per cent or 50 per cent, we might want to look at a different solution.”