B.C. will look at mandating masks if COVID-19 transmission rates surge, says province's top doctor - InfoNews

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B.C. will look at mandating masks if COVID-19 transmission rates surge, says province's top doctor

Dr. Bonnie Henry June 30.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/BC Government
June 30, 2020 - 1:23 PM

B.C. isn’t planning to mandate mask-wearing at this time but it's not a fixed position, Dr. Bonnie Henry says.

“If we end up with a surge (in COVID-19 transmission) in the respiratory season, it may be that we will require people to wear masks in some indoor situations…but we're not at that point right now," Dr. Henry, the provincial health officer, said.

The question came up today, June 30, because Toronto Mayor John Tory and several other mayors of surrounding suburbs announced mandatory face mask orders for their cities at press conferences.

While Dr. Henry said she won't mandate masks, voluntary use is encouraged.

“I do wear a mask myself and I encourage and I recommend strongly that others do when you're in those situations, particularly indoor situations, where you can't reliably maintain your distance from others," she said.

That includes everything from riding transit, getting on a flight and going into a small store where you can't always stay a distance apart from people.

“We should be wearing masks (in those cases) and that's the expectation we should have,” she said.

“There's no real benefit, that we know of, for wearing a mask outside if you're by yourself or if you're in a car by yourself. So in those situations, it's not needed, but we should have one with us all the time so that we can wear them in those situations as they pop up.”

It’s an important layer to staying safe from COVID-19, she said, but it doesn't replace the other measures that have kept B.C. safe, to date, like physical distancing and hand washing.

Dr. Henry said she’s loath to mandate mask wearing because the current transmission rates don’t call for it, but also because there are some people for whom it is not a viable option because of medical issues.

“Primarily, anybody for whom it's difficult to put it on themselves — young children, people with disabilities — it can be very much a challenge, so mandating it makes it a challenge,” she said.

While Toronto residents are seeing an overall decline in  COVID-19  cases, the measure is being explored help to avoid a crisis like that being seen south of the border.

In the United States, cities in the Sun Belt region are seeing record surges of COVID-19 cases, which experts attribute to states implementing economic reopening plans too soon.

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