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Masks mandatory for Fernie employees, public visiting City facilities

The City of Fernie is now requiring its employees, and all public visitors at City-owned facilities to wear a face mask or face covering the majority of the time.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, the City said the employees will be required to wear face masks while performing specific duties or when interacting with other team members. As well, members of the public are required to wear a mask or face covering in common areas at City facilities.

The Occupational Health and Safety Bulletin is simply that, a Bulletin, and is not an official bylaw being mandated by the municipality.

“We all feel very well served by Dr. Henry still. Creating a bylaw for the community on masks is absolutely not being considered by me and most of my colleagues in the region,” clarified Fernie Mayor Ange Qualizza.

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Qualizza told MyEastKootenayNow.com that this was a decision made first and foremost by City employees.

“It came as a recommendation from our joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee, and what that means is this request actually came from our employees. We’re not imposing it on them,” noted Qualizza. “We’ve created an opportunity for our employees to be a real part of their health decisions at work and we received the recommendation and supported it.”

Every City employee will be provided with a cloth face mask to wear. The City of Fernie outlined guidelines for mask use below for its employees.

  • Face masks are required in the following areas or circumstances:
    • Common areas
    • Lunchrooms, meeting rooms and shared office space
    • When entering City facilities
    • When interacting with anyone where you cannot maintain two metres of physical distance
    • When in proximity with employees outside your work bubble
    • When visiting or working with other employees in their offices or cubicles
    • When interacting with the public
  • Face mask exceptions:
    • When working in your office or cubicle alone without contact
    • When a physical barrier has been placed between you and other persons
    • When eating lunch in a common area where a minimum of 2-metre physical distancing is maintained

“Whenever we’re entering any City facilities or in common areas where we can’t maintain 2-metre spacing, we’re wearing a mask. When we’re in proximity with employees that are outside of our work bubble we’re wearing a mask, and certainly, when we’re interacting with the public we’re wearing a mask,” said Qualizza. “All of those things are secondary to the golden rules which Dr. Henry has trained us on which is real active hand washing, staying home when you’re sick. There’s many ways to prevent the spread of COVID and we’re just trying to make sure we’re doing them all.”

Besides the guidelines, City employees must also maintain their assigned PPE, complete a daily COVID-19 self-assessment, and reporting any damage to their equipment.

In the bulletin, the City of Fernie provided instructions to its employees on how to safely wash their assigned cloth mask either in the washing machine or by hand, and also how to dry the mask to future use.

“One of the things that we’re hoping with this mask bulletin is that we’re acting like community leaders. Using masks is about that sign of respect for your colleagues and just making sure we’re doing everything we can to keep each other safe,” Qualizza told MyEastKootenayNow.com. “If by the City of Fernie doing this as a Bulletin and making it mandatory for our employees and myself, if our community starts following suit, I think that will be a great outcome.”

The majority of Fernie’s indoor facilities are set to reopen in mid-September.

MORE: Fernie updates reopening schedule for its facilities and parks (August 24, 2020)

MORE: Mandatory Face Masks/Face Coverings Bulletin (City of Fernie)

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