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Edmonton Keeps Masks, Even Though Kenney Drops Most COVID-19 Rules

Although Alberta no longer requires people to wear masks in indoor public places as of today, the city of Edmonton has other plans.

The Alberta government lifted its mask mandate as of March 1 as part of its general easing of COVID-19 restrictions. However, the City of Edmonton's face-covering bylaw remains in effect.

Edmontonians will be required to wear masks in stores, city facilities and while walking around in restaurants within Edmonton city limits. Council is set to review its bylaw March 8.

"This puts businesses in a really difficult position," said Puneeta McBryan, executive director of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association.

"We know compliance is going to be low, compliance has been low every time the city's rules have been different from the province's rules," she said. "And people are getting more agitated and aggressive in their interactions if they don't want to wear a mask."

The city needs to do better at communicating its rules to the public, McBryan added.

Kris Armitage, manager of Knifewear on Whyte Avenue, said his staff will follow the city's bylaw but are worried about some customers being either defiant or unaware.

"Our staff are more comfortable wearing masks, they're more comfortable with customers wearing masks," he said.

Armitage said staff worry about about dealing with customers who are either not aware of the bylaw or opposed to the city acting out of step with the province.

"I think there's a great deal of exhaustion around trying to navigate the rules and knowing what the rules are and being the gatekeepers of the rules.," he said.\

The City of Edmonton, along with the City of Calgary, implemented mask bylaws in the summer of 2020, before the province introduced its mandate.

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