'Masks are critical': Doctors pen open letter to request mandatory face coverings
EDMONTON -- A group of doctors and members of the medical community are asking public health officials to make face masks mandatory for Canadians.
Masks4Canada sent a letter with their recommendation to Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Federal Minister of Health Patty Hajdu and Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro this week.
"We are respectfully requesting that strong consideration be given to the recommendation of mandatory mask policies to help protect more Canadians," the letter reads. "In addition to the current physical distancing measures and hand hygiene, masks are critical in order to ensure a safe reopening, prevent additional outbreaks and save lives."
The group would like to see face coverings mandatory in all indoor spaces outside the home, in crowded areas where physical distancing is challenging or impossible and on public transit.
It says children under the age of 2 and people with certain medical conditions would be exempt and want free masks to be prioritized for vulnerable populations.
Alberta recommends wearing masks in public and has provided 20-million free non-medical masks to Albertans at drive-thrus.
Hinshaw has said that the province is not making mask use mandatory at this point but is watching the developing evidence.
"Before we made any kind of public health measure mandatory we would need to carefully consider the pros and cons of that, and any potential unintended consequences," she said on Monday. "Right now what we're doing is really encouraging Albertans to wear masks in public places, particularly if they're going to be in a space where there's many people together."
Alberta had recorded a total of 7,482 cases of COVID-19 as of June 16.
Stage 2 of the province's relaunch began on June 12, with personal services, gyms and recreations options being allowed to reopen and increased social gathering limits.