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Letter: COVID-19 has people living in fear

Dear Editor, Bylaw 28-20 “COVID-19 Municipal Public Spaces Mask Bylaw” was passed by Okotoks town council Aug. 17.

Dear Editor,     

Bylaw 28-20 “COVID-19 Municipal Public Spaces Mask Bylaw” was passed by Okotoks town council Aug. 17.

Initially, I want to thank council for limiting this bylaw to only indoor municipal public spaces and secondly including an expiry date of January 31, 2021 (section 8.2).

An explanation of this bylaw was published August 26 on page 8 in the Western Wheel stating bylaw exclusions, educating the public, and the following disclaimer: “It is important to note that masks are an additional safety measure and that everyone needs to continue practicing 2-metre physical distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home if feeling unwell.”

The directive from Alberta Health has also listed to “wear a mask in public places where keeping a distance of 2 metres is difficult.”

Mandating mask wearing doesn’t match this directive. So we see the narrative has changed.

“Staying home if feeling unwell” is reasonable advice.

All my life I thought that if I felt well, I never had to assume I was a threat to other people’s health. The discussion seems to indicate that by wearing a mask you’re protecting others. Are we to assume we’re all walking around infecting others with the covid-19 when we’re feeling healthy? Some time ago I was employed in the insurance industry. When understanding the actual coverage of an insurance policy, you would need to pay attention to the exclusions.

In Bylaw 28-20, section 4, (a)-(i) there is a list of nine exemptions (like exclusions). Exempt are children under 2, some children under 5, medical conditions, disabilities, actively consuming food or drink, etc.

Based on the logic from these exemptions, does this mean that the virus can discern who is exempt and will avoid infecting them?

Section 4.2 states “Operators shall not request proof that an exemption applies.” So, no proof required but you still can be fined $100 for violation!

Before the mask bylaw came into discussion, traffic entering Okotoks via Northridge Drive would see a portable billboard reminding us to flatten the curve.

Doesn’t that term mean “stop the spread so our Alberta hospitals would not be overwhelmed with COVID patients”? I wondered why this billboard remained up for so long (at taxpayers expense?) as our hospital beds were never overwhelmed with people sick from the virus.

Still, enforcement of “additional safety measures” keeps increasing.  Must we continue to live in fear?

Wendy Norleen