Masks4Canada are calling for mandatory mask-wearing in public spaces in British Columbia. (Cranbrook Townsman file)

Masks4Canada group reiterates call for mask mandate

Walmart Canada and BC Transit have made masks mandatory

A group of doctors and dentists in B.C. are reiterating their call for mandatory masks in public spaces just one week after sending an open letter addressed to Premier John Horgan, health minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

The group Masks4Canada says face coverings should be worn in all indoor spaces outside homes, in public transportation or among crowds.

In their most recent press release, Masks4Canada doctors and dentists say that we are entering a “critical period in our fight against COVID-19”.

With cases in B.C. increasing frequently, the group says 20 per cent of cases in BC are not actually linked to specific outbreaks, but are community acquired.

“We know that cases are on the rise in the 20-30 year old demographic, and it is only a matter of time before this leads to transmission to the elderly and other at risk groups in their social circles,” says Masks4Canada.

Dr. Bonnie Henry has not made masks mandatory in B.C., however she has recommended they be worn in public spaces, specifically where physical distancing is harder to achieve.

Walmart Canada and BC Transit recently announced that starting in August, masks will be mandatory in stores and on public transit respectively.

Jonathan Dyck, Communications Manager for BC Transit explained that there are several exemptions for not wearing masks on transit including children under the age of five and those with medical conditions that prevent mask wearing.

“It is an education policy, not enforcement. So the assumption will be that anyone not wearing a mask on transit will fall under one of the exemptions,” said Dyck.

READ MORE: Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

READ MORE: Walmart to make face masks mandatory for customers across Canada

Dr. James Heilman, head of the emergency department at Cranbrook’s East Kootenay Regional Hospital, is one of the members of Masks4Canada. He says the trends are “extremely concerning” and that masks add a layer of protection. He was not speaking on behalf of Interior Health.

When asked how masks would help protect the public, Heilman responded saying that Masks work primarily by preventing small droplets that contain the virus from entering the air around you when you breathe out. Thus, when one wears a mask, they are protecting others.

“This is especially important because we have more and more evidence that a significant portion of people have COVID-19, but are asymptomatic and therefore may not know that they are unwittingly breathing out virus-laden droplets,” Heilman said in an email to the Townsman. “Masks may also work by preventing you from breathing in droplets emitted by others (though research is still evolving on this last point).”

In the press release from Masks4Canada, the group explains how there has been much confusion surrounding masks and their usefulness since the pandemic began. The group says that a growing body of research now shows that masks are helpful at reducing droplet emission.

Heilman says that early on in the pandemic there was concern about sufficient supplies being available for health care providers.

“They (masks) have always been recommended for this group of individuals when dealing with people who are at high risk of the disease,” said Heilman. “Additionally, the research showing that masks may work by containing the droplets emitted by the wearer has been evolving during the pandemic, and it is only recently that this aspect has become validated by scientific studies.

“Early on there were also concerns that masks would result in people touching their face more frequently. This has not turned out to be a concern.”

In terms of the mandate that Masks4Canada is calling for, Heilman says that they might not be calling for mandatory mask wearing if people were more proactive.

“Having rights and choice is certainly an important core Canadian value. However, it is also important that rules and laws are in place to ensure we protect others who also have a right to be protected from harm,” Heilman said. “This is the reason why laws exist for drinking and driving; why communicable infectious diseases are reportable; why people that handle your food at preparation plants wear hair covers and gloves.

“We had hoped that people would make the selfless choice to wear masks to protect their neighbours because it is the considerate thing to do; however, looking around, clearly people are not masking even in places where distancing is difficult,” he said. “Therefore, we are requesting a mandate for masking. It is a balance between one’s personal rights and the rights of the community.”

According to research published on Science Advances on August 7, 2020, which tested 16 different types of masks and their relative droplet count, fitted N95 masks (without a valve) release the least, but should be reserved for people performing high risk procedures or working in high risk environments.

Fleece proved to be the least effective, while regular cotton face coverings proved to be fairly effective.

Health Canada has set forth recommendations for non-medical mask (NMM) noting that masks should:

– fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops

– maintain their shape after washing and drying

– be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty

– be comfortable and not require frequent adjustment

– be made of at least two layers of tightly woven material fabric (such as cotton or linen)

– be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping

Coverings that would not be recommended include knitted/crocheted/lace masks, bandanas and fleece neck gaiters. Additionally, versions with an exhalation valve should be avoided as they allow droplets potentially containing the virus to escape.



corey.bullock@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

Conservative opposition critic tours through Kootenay riding on listening tour

Pierre Poilievre, the Tory finance critic, gathering local feedback on pandemic supports, recovery issues

It happened this week in 1913

Sept. 13 - 19. Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

BC Wildfire Service lifts area restriction around Doctor Creek fire

The BC Wildfire Service has lifted an area restriction around the Doctor… Continue reading

Council approves fuel treatment project up Gold Creek

Council also endorses grant applications for funding additional treatment and FireSmart activities

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read