EDMONTON -- The provincial nurses union is renewing a call to Alberta’s chief medical officer of health to make public mask-wearing mandatory.  

On Monday, United Nurses of Alberta passed a motion recognizing mask – alongside other practices like physical distancing, hand washing and disinfecting routines – as essential to keeping COVID-19 at bay.

As such, a letter by UNA president Heather Smith asks Dr. Deena Hinshaw to issue an order for face masks in enclosed workplaces and public spaces for the rest of the pandemic.

“As medical professionals, nurses understand the gravity of this pandemic and the serious health consequences COVID-19 poses. We also understand the economic necessity of getting Alberta back to work and preventing the need for another lockdown," Smith wrote.

“The best way to do this is through mandatory masking in workplaces and enclosed public spaces… We urge the government and the CMOH to act on this immediately, as other jurisdictions already have.”

The province of Quebec and city of Ottawa are among the most recent jurisdictions to make masking up in closed public spaces mandatory.

Since calls earlier in the month for mandatory masks, the chief medical officer of health has not upgraded her advice to wear face coverings in public.

She said Tuesday, however, that she had received a letter from UNA and would be taking it into consideration. 

“Our current policy, again, is to provide recommendation and support, but at the time, it is not mandatory,” Hinshaw told media, reiterating the government was helping residents access masks by providing them freely at fast food drive-thrus.  

Similarly, the City of Edmonton decided not to make masks mandatory unless case numbers spiked dramatically.

However, the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce has encouraged customers to mask up – for their own protection, as well as the safety of workers and the economy.

“Wearing a mask is a small but effective action that has the potential to have a huge impact on our economic future,” chamber president and CEO Janet Riopel wrote.