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COVID-19 - Face Covering Bylaw: Questions & Answers

Want to know if a mask is required for your indoor activity or for your business? Below, we have outlined rules and guidelines for some common scenarios.

For more information about the bylaw including when it will be active, how it will work and what are the exceptions, see the Pandemic Face Covering Bylaw.

To see all of our COVID-19 information and updates, visit City of Calgary COVID-19.

Frequently asked questions


General

What is considered a public premises?

People are required to wear a face covering in any part of an enclosed space to which the public has access. The bylaw excludes premises that are not accessible by the public, such as daycares.

The rule of thumb is, if the public does not have access to it, it will be exempt under the bylaw. The requirement of a fee to enter (for example, a movie theatre or gym membership) does not mean the building is not a public premises. 

Will businesses be responsible for making sure people are complying with the bylaw?

The bylaw requires businesses to display a prescribed sign at a location that is visible to a person immediately upon entering the public premises or public vehicle.

The business is not required to evict a customer or refuse service to people who are not complying with the bylaw. However, a business may choose to refuse service on the basis of non-compliance with the bylaw.

What is the compliance responsibility for citizens?

Calgarians must wear a face covering in a public indoor space or a public vehicle unless the person is separated from others by an installed screen, shield or other barriers (for example, plexi glass) or they are medically exempt.

Will individuals need to wear a face covering if physical distancing can be achieved?

Yes, a face covering is required in indoor public places, even when physical distancing can be achieved. Physical distancing in indoor public spaces is inconsistent and unpredictable and part of why this temporary bylaw is necessary.

Who will be responsible for enforcement?

The focus of this bylaw is on education first, with enforcement as a last resort option to be deployed only as needed. The approach is largely around communication and education for the public to better understand that wearing face coverings is the right thing to do.

Shared enforcement responsibilities are between Community Peace Officers, the Calgary Police Service, Livery Inspectors and Calgary Transit Peace Officers.

Do face coverings need to be worn in places of worship?

Yes. Places of worship are included in the bylaw definition of a public premises, as they are enclosed buildings that members of the public have access to. Although the provincial order expressly excludes places of worship from the mask requirement, the bylaw does not contain a similar exemption. This means that, in Calgary, face coverings are required to be worn in places of worship.

However, if a place of worship closes its doors to the public for a private event (for example, a wedding), it is not a public premises during the event and therefore attendees will not have to wear face coverings.

Would it be correct to assume public meetings, such as condo board meetings, would be exempt from the bylaw?

A meeting such as a condo board meeting would not be included in the definition of a public premises, as members of the public would not have access, therefore participants would not be required under the bylaw to wear face coverings.

What is the criteria for when to repeal the bylaw?

The bylaw will continue to be in force until a target threshold (fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 Calgarians over a period lasting more than 10 days) is achieved. If this threshold is not achieved by December 31, 2021, the bylaw will be repealed on that date.

Are face shields acceptable face coverings?

The bylaw defines a face covering as one that inclusively covers the mouth, nose and chin, ensuring a barrier that limits the transmission of infectious respiratory droplets, aligning with CDC recommendations.

A face shield only meets the definition of a face covering if it fully covers the mouth, nose and chin. Face shields that do not fully wrap around the face and chin do not qualify as they are not effective in limiting the spread of infectious respiratory droplets. 

I’ve experienced an uncomfortable circumstance or was denied a service for not wearing a mask and I have a medical exemption. What can I do?

A business is not required to evict a customer or refuse service to people who are not complying with the bylaw. However, a business may choose to refuse service if someone is not wearing a face covering. Often, these businesses will attempt to accommodate people that cannot, or chose not to wear a face covering, by offering curbside service or delivery options.

You can call 311 to file any concerns related to the bylaw. 

Vehicles

Are vehicle for-hire companies like Uber and cab companies included in the transportation that must follow the bylaw?

Passengers of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) and taxis require a face covering as both are defined under the bylaw as a public vehicle.

In the bylaw, a ‘public vehicle’ includes a bus, LRT vehicle, taxi and any vehicle that is used to transport members of the public for a fee.

Drivers that are separated from their passengers by an installed screen, shield or other barrier are not required to wear face coverings.

Gyms / Sports centres / Fitness studios

Does this bylaw apply to gym/sports centre/fitness studios in Calgary?

People actively engaging in athletic or fitness activities in gyms, sports centres and fitness studios are exempt from the bylaw. However, if the facility is accessible to the public, people who are not engaging in such activities would have to wear a face covering. The requirement of a fee to enter (for example, a gym membership) does not mean the building is not a public premises.

Daycares

Will children and staff that attend daycares be mandated to wear face coverings?

People are required to wear a face covering in any part of an enclosed space to which the public has access.

Daycares are private premises (i.e. not accessible to members of the public) and therefore the face covering bylaw does not apply.

Note: The City of Calgary's face covering bylaw does not include requirements for schools. Please visit the Government of Alberta website or contact your local schools board for more information on face covering policies within schools.

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