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Effective August 1, 2020, wearing a mask or face covering will be mandatory in all indoor public places and public vehicles.

The bylaw applies to the publicly accessible areas of businesses/retail and includes transit, transit centres and LRT platforms.

The bylaw is in effect until December 31, 2020.

Toolkit for Businesses

Find information, and answers to your questions and those of your clients and patrons in our toolkit for businesses and operators of public facilities

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the reason for the Face Covering bylaw?

With businesses reopening, more social interactions occurring and the number of cases increasing in Edmonton, these additional measures will better mitigate a potential resurgence of COVID-19 that is being experienced around the world.

We know that navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for local businesses and a second wave may disrupt businesses further in an already challenged economy. The bylaw was informed by feedback from members of the local business community and City of Edmonton operations.

Studies show that wearing a mask can reduce the spread of infectious droplets to someone else and potential contamination of the environment by these droplets. The more people wearing masks, the more likely we are to prevent the spread of the virus and keep our economy functioning and local businesses operating.

What is a face covering?

A face covering means any medical or non-medical mask or other face covering that fully covers the nose, mouth, and chin which prevents the spread of respiratory droplets. A face covering can include a cloth face covering like a homemade mask, scarf or a bandana. Note that a plastic face shield is not considered adequate protection unless it wraps around the face and underneath the chin.

What is the difference between a face covering, a mask and a face shield?

A face covering is typically a handmade or manufactured mask, bandana or scarf made of cotton or similar fabrics. 

A mask is a medical-grade or non-medical grade disposable face mask (also known as a surgical or procedure mask) that has been subject to testing and design standards to ensure they perform as intended. 

A face shield typically does not provide adequate protection from the periphery (sides) and cannot be used as an alternative to a non-medical mask when physical distancing cannot be achieved, unless it wraps around the face and underneath the chin.

How do I wear a mask properly?
  • Please make sure to wash or sanitize your hands before putting on your mask, as well as before and after you’ve taken off your mask.
  • As you put it on, make sure your nose, mouth and chin are covered. Tighten with ties or ear loops to reduce gaps.
  • Do not touch the front of your mask or your face under the mask. If you need to adjust the mask or take it off, use the ties or ear loops.
  • Do not wear the mask if it is wet, torn or dirty. If it becomes damp because it’s been worn for a long time, change the mask. 
  • Do not wear the mask under your nose or chin.
  • Do not share the mask with another person.
  • If you have a cloth mask, store it in a sealed bag until you wash it with hot, soapy water.
How do I dispose of a mask properly?

Please make sure you dispose of your used disposable masks into a waste bin. If one is not available, store your used materials in a plastic bag until they can be disposed of properly.   

Will the City provide masks?

Not at this time, but if that changes, we will make an announcement. In June and July, the City supplied more than one million masks at transit centres and LRT stations as part of the Government of Alberta's mask distribution plan. Masks can now be purchased at most grocery and retail stores, as well as farmers’ markets. If using reusable face coverings, please be sure to wash them after use in accordance with Alberta Health guidance.

What if I prefer not to wear a face covering?

Although you may prefer to not wear a covering in public, in order to enter publicly-accessible indoor spaces or use public transportation, a face covering is required unless you meet the exemptions listed.

Exemptions can be found at

Where are people required to wear a face covering?

An indoor public place is any enclosed space to which the public has access including:

  • Retail stores
  • Entertainment venues
  • Recreation centres
  • Transit stations
  • Places of worship and religious and cultural gatherings
  • Hotels
  • Public vehicles including buses and LRT
  • Taxis and vehicles for hire like Uber

The general rule is, if the public does not have access to it, it will be exempt under the bylaw.

Can a mask/face covering be removed?

Face coverings can be removed when eating or drinking in a designated seating area or as part of a religious or spiritual ceremony, or when engaged in water activities or physical exercise.

They can also be removed temporarily when engaging in a service that requires this (for example, for a passport photo, at a dentist, barber (when trimming facial hair), and other personal service treatments involving the face).

Why do I have to wear a face covering?

Covering your nose and mouth with a mask or face covering helps reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Wearing the face covering doesn’t just help to protect you, it protects our employees and our other customers, especially those who have pre-existing health conditions.

Places and Spaces

What is the protocol for AirBnb hosts who live in the home they host guests in?

As private residences are not generally accessible to the public the bylaw would not apply. Property owners may determine their own requirements within their own homes.

What constitutes physical exercise? For example, dance classes, playing sports, bowling?

Any physical activity that is more than usual movement could qualify. Simply walking the aisles of a grocery store would not qualify. In all cases, we would expect to see face coverings worn at all times and removed only for the activity - for example, while seated with a group waiting to bowl, a face covering should be worn, but if the participant feels it would hinder them to leave it on while in the lane, it could be removed temporarily.

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

Places of worship are included in the bylaw as they are enclosed buildings that members of the public have access to. Those attending places of worship are permitted to temporarily remove their face covering for eating or drinking, such as to receive communion.

With regard to the stage areas in places of worship, if this space is only accessible to those leading worship or preaching and you have implemented physical barriers or distancing practices between every person that will not be wearing a face covering and any other person, face coverings may be removed in this area. However, if these physical controls are not in place face coverings will be required.

Does the bylaw apply to shared spaces in residential condominium buildings, for example hallways, elevators and amenity spaces?

The general rule is, if the public does not have access to it, it will be exempt under the bylaw. Condominium building indoor shared spaces are not considered accessible to the public, therefore they would be exempt.

Does the bylaw apply to community leagues? For example, community league board meetings and events in community league amenity buildings and halls?

If the community league building is being accessed by staff only and no public will be present, masks are not required. If the league is hosting a public event, or if a league board meeting is open to the public, masks are required.

Will I not be allowed on transit if I’m not wearing a mask?

No one will be denied boarding for not wearing a mask.

Why isn’t my Operator wearing a mask on the bus and the shield is open?

Some Operators may have medical exemptions just as members of the public do.
We have instructed ETS bus operators to drive with the shield window up, however compliance is not perfect. In some cases operators have difficulty hearing customers through the barrier and lower the slider. This will be especially true with customers wearing masks.


Will the City be enforcing the face covering bylaw?

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.

Will the other public health measures still need to be in place?

All other public health measures, as listed below and those in place for each work area, will still need to be adhered to regardless if people are wearing a face covering or not. Face coverings are an added layer of protection to help us re-commit to public health measures and protect the safety of others.

  • Maintain 2 metre physical distance
  • Stay home if feeling sick 
  • Sanitize high-touch areas frequently
  • Wash and sanitize hands regularly
Why didn’t the City just do more to educate people about masks rather than pass this bylaw?

The City has worked to educate Edmontonians on the need for face coverings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Having the majority of people wearing masks is critical to flattening the curve of COVID-19.

Will I not be allowed in a City-owned facility/refused service at a City-owned facility if I’m not wearing a mask?

Our approach is education first. Over time, if we see repeated and flagrant infractions around wearing a mask or face covering, we may refuse service after providing a warning at City recreation facilities. In serious cases, a $100 fine may be laid. 

Face Covering / Mask Exemptions

Why did the City create the exemption card program in the first place?

We heard from a number of people who had exemptions to the bylaw that they were concerned about or faced questions and confrontation related to their ability to wear a face covering. In some cases, people were being refused service, which any business can do for any reason, but we felt an exemption card would ease those concerns or points of conflict.

Is my current exemption card still valid?

They will be honoured in City facilities and on Transit. However, any business has the right to refuse service to anyone. We are encouraging businesses to not refuse service to those with legitimate exemptions under the bylaw. If you are refused service, you may wish to discuss alternative service options with a business, such as private appointments or curbside pick up.

It’s important to note, too, that the Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings bylaw does not apply to healthcare facilities, schools and childcare facilities, which are under provincial jurisdiction. In those facilities, exemption cards are not valid and members of the public should follow the mask requirements set out by those organizations / facilities.

I need a card. Is there any way I can get one while this program is paused?

Unfortunately no, as we are reassessing the program and distribution mechanisms. Putting potential changes in place will take some time. If an exemption applies to you, you are still able to identify that you are exempt, in situations where the bylaw requires face coverings to be worn. Please watch the City’s social media and this page for updates.

When will you know when the program will resume?

We don’t have a specific timeline right now. We will ensure updates are communicated when a different distribution channel is set up and cards are available again.

Who doesn’t have to wear a mask or face covering?

We understand that not everyone is able to wear a mask or face covering, so we ask everyone to be kind to those unable to do so. Therefore some exemptions apply:

The Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw 19408 acknowledges that some people are not able to wear a face covering or mask.

Exempt people include those:
  • Under age 2
  • Unable to place, use, or remove a face covering without assistance
  • With mental or physical concerns or limitations, or any other protected ground under the Alberta Human Rights Act, that prevent them from wearing a face covering
  • Eating or drinking while seated in designated spaces or as part of a religious or spiritual ceremony
  • Engaging in water activities or physical exercise
  • Providing assistance or care to someone with a disability who would be hindered if the caregiver is wearing a face covering
  • Engaging in services that require removal of the face covering (for example, having a passport photo taken or dental work
How do you know if I have an exemption? Under the Human Rights Act, I do not need to tell you what my exemption is about.

Individuals may self-identify that they are exempt. No proof or detail are required.

I have a medical condition/allergy that prevents me from wearing a mask. What do I need to show before going into a business or using public transportation?
  • If you have mental or physical concerns or limitations, or any other protected ground under the Alberta Human Rights Act, then you do not have to wear a mask or face covering
  • If you have an allergy to a particular kind of mask, we encourage you to try using an alternate type of face covering (for example, bandana/scarf)
  • You don’t need to show anything around being exempt however you may self-identify if you are exempt
Are any places exempt from asking people to wear masks?

The bylaw excludes: 

  • Schools
  • Health care facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Child care facilities
  • Employee-only spaces where physical barriers have been installed between the employee and patrons
  • Condominium/apartment indoor shared spaces are not considered accessible to the public and are therefore exempt  
What should I do if I see someone not wearing a mask or face covering in a public indoor space?

Please don’t assume they are able to wear a mask. In fact, the bylaw includes seven exemption categories, and people do not have to explain why they have an exemption. It is your decision to engage with them, but if you do, we ask you to show kindness and compassion.

The City has peace officers and communications channels (like this one) which are educating the public about the Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings bylaw. 

COVID-19 Bylaw Complaints

The City of Edmonton is taking bylaw complaints on concerns related to COVID-19. (eg. Face Coverings)

Physical Distancing Concern

The City of Edmonton is taking complaints on physical distancing concerns related to COVID-19

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