If only Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had been wearing a mask at his coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, he might’ve been able to hide his look of instant regret after he said masks prevent people from speaking “moistly” on others.
Trudeau was touting the benefits of Canadians wearing masks during the COVID-19 crisis when he appeared to ad-lib some of those benefits in a not-so-slick way that triggered strong reactions on social media.
“It prevents you from breathing or speaking moistly on them,” Trudeau said, then instantly regretted.
“What a terrible image,” he immediately muttered after the misstep, shaking his head before plunging forward. “But it actually is something that people can do in certain situations.”
Trudeau was clearly kicking himself after the cringe-inducing comment, but that didn’t earn him a pass on social media, where critics piled on to laugh at the bizarre comment.
“How many people are uncomfortable with ‘moistly’?” one user asked.
“This is why Trudeau ALWAYS reads from a script written for him,” another user wrote. “When he has to think on his own two feet, this is what comes out.”
Another user edited the video to present it as one of Canada’s Heritage Minutes.
Several were quick to add “moistly” to the list of Trudeau’s most memorable verbal blunders, joining such comments as “peoplekind” and “paper drink box water bottle.”
However, others saw the PM’s comment as a real — albeit awkwardly phrased — annoyance that should be addressed.
“I don’t like people breathing or ‘speaking moistly’ on me,” one supporter said. “I relate to this speech 100 per cent and I despise anybody who thinks it’s okay to be speaking moistly on others.”
“Trudeau really knows how to lighten the mood,” said another person.
“Trudeau has inadvertently created a horrible new phrase that I intend to immediately start using,” added another user.
Several people took the comment in a completely different direction, riffing off of a memorable quote from the film Aliens, in which a child says that the monsters “mostly come out at night. Mostly.”
Others suggested that Trudeau had come up with a new way of complaining about an old issue during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The perfect alternative to ‘say it, don’t spray it,'” user Melanie Putz tweeted.
Counter-terrorism expert Mubin Shaikh offered a more succinct way of summing up Trudeau’s message via Twitter.
“We encourage all Canadians to .. say it, don’t spray it,” he wrote.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.