Jyoti Gondek’s city council has voted to remove the criteria for removing the mask mandate bylaw, effectively meaning that the mask mandate may now be permanent.
The bylaw initially set a criterion that would automatically repeal the bylaw, 28 consecutive days of low (100 or less per capita) case counts in Calgary. And, given the current case counts, this meant that the mask mandate could have been automatically repealed by November 26, according to the Calgary Herald.
The vote, which was held on Monday, removed this perfectly reasonable criterion.
The city council voted 11-4 in favour of authoritarianism, with Councillors Sonya Sharp, Sean Chu, Peter Demong, and Dan McLean fighting against the replacement bylaw.
“I think, for many of us, we don’t want déjà vu,” Gondek said following the vote. “We want to do the right thing now, and if it means a little more caution, then we’re in for that.”
Councillor Terry Wong, who introduced the proposed change, shared Gondek’s supposedly cautious approach.
“Rather than go through the chance it is or chance it isn’t,” said Wong, “I’d much rather just have some certainty where administration could come back and say to us, ‘We believe we’re on safe ground right now, and let’s call it off.'”
Wong says that he originally proposed the change as he was concerned about what would happen if the mask mandate was repealed right before flu season (though he did not use this specific phrase), as COVID infections will likely spike in the early winter and then city council will have to fight to reimpose the mandate.
This decision, however, doesn’t just extend the mask mandate through flu season: it extends it indefinitely. When or if the mask mandate is ever repealed is now entirely up to the discretion of Calgary’s city council.