Vegreville Council Requests COVID-19 Contingency Plan

Vegreville Council Requests COVID-19 Contingency Plan

Michelle Pinon
News Advertiser

As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise the idea of having a contingency plan in place may come into play.

That is why members of Vegreville town council have directed administration to develop a plan so that if or when they hit a certain threshold in the number of COVID-19 cases in the community that it will trigger a mandatory mask bylaw. That plan will be discussed in detail at its next council meeting on Nov. 24.

The question of implementing a mask bylaw was raised again during town council’s legislative committee on Nov. 17.

Mayor Tim MacPhee said wearing a mask is not the answer to flatten the curve, and if it takes off in the community that they will have to take a look at implementing other measures like they did in the spring.

MacPhee said they have to go out and re-educate people in the community and get the message across. “If we want to have a Christmas in this community then the decisions we make in the next two weeks are going to directly affect them.”

Coun. Tina Warawa said she didn’t believe slapping on a mask was the answer either, but wanted to have a threshold set. She also wants to know what else the town is prepared to do on that front. For example, rules around mask wearing or other restrictions in town-owned facilities. “We can’t lock down our border, but we can make further restrictions as to how and who can utilize our facilities.”

Community Services Director Phil Rowe raised the issue because he was recommending face masks be mandatory in town-owned facilities that are open to the public for the safety and protection of staff. “If we lose one or two of our staff members in our facilities we have to start closing.” Rowe said it was just a preventative measure for public safety.

Coun. Warawa said they have to look at the trends, but she didn’t want to jump the gun and make masks mandatory.

Coun. Dave Berry said he hasn’t changed his opinion on the issue. “The science isn’t there to support masks either direction, wearing them or not wearing them…” He added that he doesn’t want to make wearing masks mandatory when they don’t have the science to back it up. “As a scientist I can’t support it.”

Coun. Taneen Rudyk said it was more of a matter of being pragmatic and said she would like to see an ongoing evaluation and contingency plans. She also did not have a problem making masks mandatory in town-owned facilities to protect employees.

MacPhee said if they decided to go the route of a mandatory mask bylaw they would also need to know how they would enforce it and how they would roll out a plan to the public.