Countries all over the world are implementing policies that make it mandatory to wear masks or face coverings while in enclosed spaces or when unable to social distance. While public transportation has been the primary target of mandatory face masks in Canada, there has been a steadily growing call for an expansion of this protocol.
In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, multiple communities, businesses, public venues, indoor spaces, and transit systems across Canada have started making non-medical face masks mandatory. However, while there are doctors, epidemiologists, and other specialists calling for these types of widespread laws, there are plenty of others that are warning about possible negative impacts and point out that there isn’t strong enough scientific evidence to justify such all-encompassing and heavy-handed measures.
Is there a definitive answer at this point? Well, let’s take a closer look.
When There are Too Many People
Bluntly stated, virtually every single expert, including The Public Health Agency of Canada, recommends wearing a face mask Canada when in public places (especially when crowded) where maintaining a physical distance of at least two meters from other people (known as social distancing) isn’t possible to do on a consistent basis. This includes public locations such as local shops and big-box stores, shopping areas, and of course public transportation.
The Basic Concept
While you may have political or apolitical views on the requirement of face masks in Canada, there is some pretty good common sense and the logic behind the thinking on this. The most common line of thinking, and agreement among experts, is that face masks in Canada can reduce the spread of respiratory droplets asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 produce when coughing, sneezing, talking, or even breathing.
We’ve seen a growing number of businesses and municipalities implement these recommendations due to expanding evidence that people can transmit the disease through these droplets days and even weeks before showing symptoms. Of course, if you are experiencing symptoms at all, you should stay home and not be in public places until you test negative or 14 days after symptoms stop.
Why Some Believe Voluntary Compliance Isn’t Enough
Recently, two groups in Canada (a collection of healthcare professionals and epidemiologists in Quebec and the group known as Masks4Canada) have called for more mandatory mask laws making in Canada in certain circumstances. Mandatory face masks in Canada have been cited as a low-cost, risk-free way to limit the spread of COVID-19 and possibly curb that second wave that so many are predicting for this fall.
Nima Machouf, an epidemiologist, was quoted at a news conference last month as saying, “It is now the time to listen to science,” adding that until a vaccine is available, wearing masks is a way “to regain a bit of normalcy in our lives.”
One of the groups is asking for mandatory face masks in Canada in indoor spaces for anyone 12 years of age or older, especially when on public transit, but they also stress the need for face masks in Canada in outdoor spaces when it is hard or impossible to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Many point to the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have data that shows wearing face masks helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. Toward the end of April, Quebec and Canadian public health officials began touting the possible benefits of wearing face masks in Canada when physical distance suggestions cannot be maintained. However, these groups say that more must be done in order to ensure that citizens follow these guidelines.
Why Face Masks In Canada May Become Mandatory
While there may still be a debate on whether or not face masks prevent you from being infected with COVID-19, most experts agree that a large portion of transmissions is coming from those that are infected, yet completely asymptomatic.
Virtually from the beginning of the global pandemic, it has been known that infected citizens can spread the disease for upwards of two weeks before ever showing any symptoms. This means that, no matter your views on wearing masks when in public, that you could be spreading the disease to everyone you come into contact with for weeks before ever showing a sign of being infected.
Face masks in Canada may not completely protect you from contracting the virus, but coupled with physical distancing, proper handwashing, and common sense when it comes to enclosed spaces, you can severely limit your chances. If Canadian citizens continue to flout public safety warnings and health service guidelines, we could well see face masks in Canada become mandatory.
The main advantage of Face masks in Canada and elsewhere is helping to prevent carriers from actually spreading the disease. Whether you’re using a non-surgical medical mask, rebreather, cloth face covering, or other masks, you’re helping prevent thousands of droplets of your possibly infected spittle and mucus from floating freely in the air for all to breathe. Especially those close to you.
Public discourse, community gatherings, public protests, government opposition rallies, and other events that attract crowds are becoming almost a “new normal” part of life. While Canadians definitely reserve the right to attend the types of events, doing so without considering COVID-19 precautions could indeed lead to mandatory face masks in Canada.
Do Your Part, Wear a Mask
Want to keep mandatory face masks in Canada limited to just public transportation and some businesses? Then do your part and help stop the spread of COVID-19 by wearing face coverings whenever you’re unable to properly adhere to physical distancing suggestions.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re inside or outside. If you’re standing closer than two meters for an extended time, then you should wear a face mask Canada. Don’t wait for officials to make it mandatory for you to wear a face mask in Canada no matter where you are. Care for your friends and neighbors and wear one voluntarily any time your situation meets those outlined above.