Excited to see faces again? No masks for MRU
By Keoputhy Bunny, News Editor
According to an email announcement from the administration last week, starting March 14, masks are no longer mandatory at Mount Royal University (MRU) for students, faculty and staff. This decision was reached ‘“in alignment” with the new protocols set by the Alberta government.
This is contradictory to an earlier statement from the university in early February 2022 where MRU stated that they will keep their mask mandate until the end of April.
However, there will still be exceptions to this rule. Masks will still be required in the Wellness Services, in specific clinics, labs as well as practicums and work terms where they still require it.
There has already been backlash in other parts of the province, however. The University of Alberta (U of A) is following a similar course for non-mandatory masking except their plan was to be enacted on March 16, not March 14.
The president of their student union, Rowan Ley, states that, “it’s not fair to make people who might justifiably be uncomfortable go into a crowded space with lots of unmasked people.” Ley said the union will try to fight for reinstallment of the mask mandate for the continued safety of the students.
The mask mandate for Alberta was lifted March 1, and the vaccine passport program was suspended on Feb. 9. Almost all public health measures have been lifted in accordance with the provincial three-step program to “re-open” the province. Alberta is currently in step two. At step three, isolation is no longer mandatory, it will only be recommended.
It’s officially been two years since the pandemic started, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO first named and announced the virus on Feb. 11 in 2020.
According to the Government of Alberta website, at the time of writing, 4003 people have lost their lives to COVID-19. Overall, more than eight million vaccine doses have been administered in the province and 90 per cent of the population (12+) have at least one shot, and 86.6 per cent had both shots.
There still seems to be some contention in Calgary as protests are still erupting across the city. An anti-restriction protest on 17th Avenue SW on March 12 resulted in a confrontation between counter-protesters and protesters.
The protesters, numbering around 2000 according to Calgary police, were met by counter-protesters near Western High School. People have come forward on Twitter questioning the police’s approach to containing the rallies. A video was shared, showing police officers shoving counter-protesters back with bikes.
“Didn’t see such aggression towards the protesters who have made living and working in the Beltline hell every Sat for weeks,” the accompanying caption written by Calgary resident Rita Sirigano said. “In fact it almost looked like they’re in cahoots.”
The incident has also drawn the attention of Mayor Jyoti Gondek. She questioned enforcement methods regarding how the situation was handled. She also noted that this was not due to the mandates because those were all but gone. She even went as far as saying that telling the residents and shop owners to wait out the protests was shameful.
“It’s past time to support people in their communities & businesses,” she tweeted. “It’s past time to face the fact that this ‘protest’ requires more than ‘crowd control’. Enforcement must stand with the community.”
Calgary Police have responded by saying that as the situation developed, they had to “take action to avoid further escalation of the crowd and minimize the disruption to nearby residents and businesses.”
“Officers on scene collected a significant amount of evidence today and will be working with investigators to review the actions of all parties to determine any potential enforcement,” they concluded.