Cities consider mask mandates as province set to cancel most pandemic tracking

Some Calgary city councillors and mayoral candidates are publicly suggesting a return to mask mandates as COVID cases climb yet again.

Councillors Gian-Carlo Carra and Druh Farrell have both voiced support for an emergency meeting, as has current councillor and mayoral candidate Jyoti Gondek. Fellow sitting councillor and mayoral candidate Jeff Davison has also expressed support as well as disbelief at the provincial government's latest policy to abandon virtually all testing as well as contact tracing and isolation requirements by Aug. 16.

"I think we've been put in a terrible position by this provincial government," Gondek said. "They're not tracing. They are not testing, they're not asking people to isolate [. . .] they are not taking this seriously."

Mayoral candidate Jeromy Farkas disagreed, saying chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw's advice should stand for all jurisdictions in Alberta.

"Dr. Hinshaw has made the call, it's very clear that vaccines are effective and they work, so I think that that we need to stick to the science here," said Farkas. "Public Health is a provincial responsibility."

Edmonton city council will revisit its mask mandate in an emergency meeting Aug. 12, with the endorsement of outgoing mayor Don Iveson.

The consideration comes as infections continue to rise. While doctors say the unvaccinated make up the vast majority of new cases and experience the most severe outcomes, roughly 1.3 million doses of vaccine are sitting in AHS freezers as demand has stalled out.

Children under 12 still cannot be vaccinated because trials have not been completed.

For the fifth day in a row protestors gathered in front of provincial government buildings in Calgary and Edmonton to demand a change in policy.

About 200 assembled in front of the MacDougall Centre Tuesday. One counter protestor was arrested according to Calgary Police.