On Friday, Edmonton’s city council voted 12-1 in favour of a one-year extension to the mandatory face covering bylaw until December 31, 2021.

The bylaw originally came into effect at the beginning of August for a five month window and states that anyone visiting an indoor public space or travelling via public transportation such as LRT, taxi or bus is required to wear a mask. Those who fail to comply will face a fine of $100.

Councillor Sarah Hamilton said, “The reality is that the pandemic will be with us for some time and given the amount of work that is before us and the amount of work that this particular bylaw requires, I think it would be prudent to give it a longer timeline on the repeal.”

Hamilton requested that the extension go beyond a five-month window to a full year and was seconded by councillor Scott McKeen.

“This does not preclude it from being repealed earlier, in fact I have nothing but hope that it can be repealed in May or April, but practically speaking, I think it makes sense to extend it to the end of next year.” said Hamilton.

The motion was passed under the assurance that it could have the chance to be debated or repealed in every council meeting.

In April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians won’t be able to return to life as they knew it before until a vaccine for the coronavirus is available. Trudeau told Canadians this month that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate would be ready for distribution in early 2021.

Despite the belief that a vaccine would end the need for public health measures like mandatory masks, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said a COVID-19 vaccine is “not a silver bullet” and that wearing a mask and social distancing are the “best weapon” to control the spread of the coronavirus. 

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