Majority of people in Edmonton heeding mask rule, city says

Nearly a week into Edmonton’s new face covering bylaw, the city says the majority of people are following the new rule, with a few exceptions. 

80 to nearly 100 per cent of people wearing face covering in public indoor places

City bylaw requires people to wear masks on public transit. (Art Raham/CBC)

It's been nearly a week since Edmonton passed a face covering bylaw and the city says the majority of people are following the new rule, with a few exceptions. 

Between Saturday to midday Thursday, peace officers found shoppers and store patrons wore appropriate masks 80 per cent of the time, city bylaw spokesperson, Chrystal Coleman, said in an email. 

During that time period, peace officers patrolled 275 areas, Coleman said. 

Of the 4,500 people they observed, about 17 per cent weren't wearing a face covering. 

They handed out more than 1,200 masks and had 380 "educational interactions" with people, Coleman told CBC News. 

The bylaw came into force on Saturday and applies to all indoor public spaces in Edmonton.

Between Aug. 1 and Aug. 5, the city reported even higher compliance at shopping centres and grocery stores, with bylaw officers noting about 3 per cent people went unmasked. 

On public transit, inspectors are finding 80 to 100 per cent of riders are following the rule. 

However, the numbers around vehicles for hire — such as taxis and Uber — are still scant.

The city said officers checked 335 vehicles but the city provided no information on whether drivers and passengers were wearing face coverings, even though the vehicles are subject to the bylaw. 

Coleman said peace officers handed out nine masks in relation to vehicle-for-hire services.

The focus is still on education and raising awareness instead of handing out warnings or $100 fines under the bylaw, Coleman said. 

The city is also asking the public and businesses to be tolerant of patrons who may be exempt from the bylaw.

In a tweet Friday, the city urged people to "be kind" to people not wearing masks and for businesses to not refuse service to people who are exempt. 

The exemption applies to anyone with a medical or physical concern that prevents them from wearing a face covering. Caregivers who can't provide proper care with a mask are also exempt.

At a bar or restaurant, patrons who are eating or drinking in a designated seating area can be unmasked. But once they leave their seats, the bylaw applies.

The bylaw doesn't apply to places under provincial jurisdiction, such as child care facilities, hospitals and schools.