This Wednesday, town council decided that a mandatory face covering requirement will only be enacted if Cochrane reaches 10 active cases, and would be rescinded when active case numbers are reported to be below 10, for 14 consecutive days.

The bylaw reflects the recommendations made by health authorities at the federal, provincial and regional levels to wear face coverings to limit the spread of COVID-19 where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Mayor Genung said the Town’s primary focus is educating residents on the importance of wearing face coverings in indoor public spaces and public vehicles, rather than enforcement.

“It is our responsibility as a community to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable. This bylaw represents our Council’s commitment to utilizing every tool we can to ensure public safety, to protect our residents and keep our economy open. Our decision allows our community to continue to follow all measures to keep each other safe without the final step of making masks mandatory immediately,” said Mayor Genung.

As some individuals may be unable to wear a mask, the Town of Cochrane is asking residents to be supportive of others in our community and remind residents that every person’s situation is different.

“I want to thank everyone who provided feedback. We tried to reflect the support, as well as the concerns we heard in this bylaw proposal. We believe this is a measured approach, balancing the need for individual responsibility with Municipal management of risks associated with this pandemic,” said Mayor Genung.

Wearing a mask does not replace the need to maintain physical distancing or the practice of regular hand washing and sanitizing.

More information will be available on in the coming days.

 Statement from Mayor Jeff Genung, on mask usage in Cochrane

“The mandatory use of masks and face coverings continues to be a topic of conversation in Cochrane, not only throughout our region, but on a national and global level as leaders and experts try to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, the Government of Alberta has indicated that they do not intend to establish a provincial mandate on masks, instead leaving the decision to municipal leaders to determine what is best for their individual communities.

Town Council, Administration and our Emergency Management Team continue to watch the numbers, and align decisions based on guidance and recommendations put forward by Alberta Health. The recent increase in cases throughout our region is concerning, and Council wants to be sure that we are prepared to implement measures needed to respond when appropriate. The Town of Cochrane is not considering an immediate blanket mandate, but rather a measured approach based on the Provincial Relaunch Strategy.

Mandatory masks will be implemented should Cochrane reach 10 active cases; a conservative application of the Watch categorization of the Provincial Relaunch. Once implemented, the mandate would remain in place until Cochrane sustains less than 10 active cases for 14 consecutive days.

Public Health officials continue to strongly recommend the use of masks, particularly indoors when appropriate physical distancing is not possible. The Province is providing free masks in locations across Alberta, and the Town of Cochrane is offering masks for free to COLT riders as well as in other Town operated facilities within the community. We ask our residents and businesses to continue to take precautions, follow all health and safety protocols on a voluntary basis, for the safety of each other and to avoid the need to apply regulatory mandates.

We believe this is a thoughtful and measured approach, giving due consideration to provincial guidelines, while considering what is best for our community. This approach balances the need for individual responsibility and municipal management of the risks associated with the pandemic.”