The city is trying to clear up some confusion surrounding the mask bylaw, after learning that fake bylaw exemption cards were being sold online.
“These cards are not from the City of Lethbridge and we do not endorse them,” said Robin Harper, Lethbridge Recreation and Culture General Manager.
Harper added that the city is not requiring residents to show proof of their exemption at any building or retail business. ” What we are asking the public to do is to provide that proof of exemption verbally.”
The bylaw, which was enacted August 24, states that a face covering must be worn at all times while in an indoor, enclosed, or substantially enclosed public place, or in a public vehicle.
That includes places like malls, grocery stores, retail businesses, churches, taxis and other ridesharing businesses. But the bylaw also includes exemptions.
Harper said people are not required to provide a doctors note, card, or documentation to prove they are exempt, “We are relying on people’s honesty to follow the intent and spirit of the bylaw, and state that verbally if they are asked.”
City officials said they discovered exemption cards were being sold online for $5 after the city received a tweet asking if the cards were legitimate.
Other cities in Canada and the United States have also posted warnings about fake exemption cards being sold online.
Edmonton briefly provided exemption cards for people who are unable to wear a mask due to physical or mental health conditions, but suspended the program after the city decided it needed to be reassessed.
By then about 3,800 exemption cards had been issued in an effort to help ease tensions around compliance.
The city of Lethbridge said regulatory services is receiving “quite a high volume of calls” from residents reporting incidents of non-compliance.
Harper said the city is relying on people to be respectful and compassionate, “not make it about being a tattle tail, and just to be honest and respect the intent of the bylaw.”
The city maintains its focus is on education and encouraging residents to wear a mask as a way to protect those around them.
Harper declined to comment on whether the city was planning to take any action against people who were selling the fake exemption cards.