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  • Matt Harrison

Make masks mandatory

Venturing out this past week, I forgot that a pandemic was still raging.


When I went to a local Hills’ hardware store, the employees and the majority of the customers weren’t wearing masks. My mask-wearing self was the anomaly, not the other way ‘round. Later, at a Hill’s grocery store, again I was the anomaly. Moreover, I felt like I was the only one still performing the two-metre ‘dance’; no one seemed afraid to come within a foot of me—or anyone else for that matter.


As you’ll see from a letter by one of our readers this week, my experience wasn’t unique.

I gather the sense that, given the variety of protective measures in place (or not), there’s much confusion, certainly ignorance, and some willfulness over what we should do to protect ourselves and others during this reopening phase. And for that, I put some of the blame on the Quebec government.


When it comes to confusion, it doesn’t get better than this: While the Quebec.ca website regarding COVID-19 states, “Wearing a face covering ... in public is strongly recommended especially when physical distancing (two metres) is not possible, such as when you go to the grocery store or take public transit,” the province’s “Self-care Guide” on the virus, which most of us received in the mail this past week, states: “Wearing a mask when you have no symptoms is not recommended”— with “no symptoms” underlined for emphasis.


(Insert spiral-eyes emoji here.)


The “Guide” does recommend a mask if you’re coughing or sneezing; I’ve been wheezing and sneezing due to allergies, so should I wear a mask? #utterlyconfused


This past week, a group of epidemiologists and health professionals called on the province to make masks compulsory, saying, masks are a “low cost, risk-free” way to limit the spread of the virus, according to a CBC report. The CBC also reported this past week that Masks4Canada, a group of doctors and scientists campaigning to make masks mandatory and which includes the voice of Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, sent an open letter to federal health officials that noted a recent poll indicating less than h