Calls for mandatory masks in Alberta’s public indoor spaces
EDMONTON -- Some Albertans want the provincial government to follow a decision by the City of Toronto to make wearing a mask indoors mandatory.
Starting July 7, Toronto residents – except for toddlers under two years old or those with existing medical conditions – will be required to wear a mask in public indoor spaces.
Betty Reitan, co-owner of the Old Strathcona Antique Mall, agrees with the decision so much she has already implemented it in her store.
"I want to see the government mandate it," she told CTV News Edmonton.
"We’re just trying to be as safe as possible for everybody."
Dr. Amy Tan, an associate professor in the University of Calgary’s department of family medicine, is one of the organizers of a campaign calling for masks to be mandatory in indoor spaces, crowds and transit.
"We know with modelling that we need 80 per cent of the population to be masking regularly in order for the community spread to be contained," Tan said.
Masks4Canada also wants to see Alberta follow Toronto’s lead.
"Not for enforcement but to have a clear message and expectation that … you mask in these high risk situations."
A MUNICIPAL DECISION, SAYS CMOH
While the province’s chief medical officer of health has advised Albertans to wear masks in public to lower the spread of COVID-19, she suggested Tuesday that mandatory mask-wearing could be a policy implemented by local governments.
"I think this is an example of where municipalities have the ability to look at their own local epidemiology and their local circumstances," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said of Toronto’s decision.
"If they feel that a particular measure is appropriate in that particular context, then municipalities have the opportunity to go forward and put that in place."
However, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson told media he'd like direction from the province, noting that Toronto has its own civic public health officer.
"Because we don’t have a state of local emergency I’m not sure we’re in a position to give a unilateral order to mask up off city property," Iveson commented.
He added he had heard that feedback from residents and business owners, and was expecting the question to come up at Thursday's emergency advisory committee meeting.
Iveson said he would first want to know whether Alberta’s again growing case count can be attributed to inappropriate gathering or other public health order violations.
"If the evidence points to that, then we may not be at the point where a mask order is needed."
One day into the antique mall’s new policy, Reitan says she’s seen more compliance than heard complaints, but doesn’t think it should be left to businesses to set the rules.
"I’m having to explain it instead of saying, you know, it’s the law."