City of Edmonton abruptly ends contentious mask exemption card distribution after four days

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Cards already distributed remain a valid way to communicate an exemption, the city said. The program is currently being reassessed and the city is considering other ways to distribute cards to those with legitimate exemptions and have been unable to pick up a card in person. The city said Tuesday its initial plan was to launch an online application process for the cards to be distributed by mail.

“We trust that those with legitimate exemptions have been able to obtain a card up to this point,” the memo said. “At this time, we are unable to say when this alternate distribution will be in place and when cards will be available again.”

The cards were initially launched after the city heard from a number of residents with legitimate exemptions who were challenged in public and denied service for not wearing a mask. Exemptions apply to children under the age of two, people with mental or physical concerns or limitations that prevent them from wearing a mask and those who are unable to place or remove a mask without assistance. Anyone providing aid to someone with a disability is also exempt if wearing a mask hinders their ability to provide care.

More than 3,800 cards were doled out as of Tuesday at noon. The city didn’t provide the updated number on Wednesday.

Many businesses have voiced their concerns about the program, arguing it could lead to further confrontations and puts an added tension on those who support a “no mask, no service” policy.

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