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Should masks be mandatory in Atlantic Canada during COVID-19?

Click to play video 'Many New Brunswickers feel it’s time for province to make mask-wearing mandatory' Many New Brunswickers feel it’s time for province to make mask-wearing mandatory
WATCH: The province of Quebec is the latest jurisdiction to make masks mandatory in indoor public spaces to limit the spread of coronavirus. None of the Atlantic provinces have made similar rules, but as Shelley Steeves tells us many feel the time has come – Jul 13, 2020

As a growing number of regions across Canada move to make the wearing of masks mandatory in public places, the hot-button issue remains up for debate in Atlantic Canada.

The use of non-medical masks has been reccommended by health officials as a method to stop the spread of COVID-19.

In Atlantic Canada, which has experienced relatively few new cases over the past month, that debate has become even more relevant as the region’s four provinces have established an Atlantic travel bubble.

Read more: Quebec makes masks mandatory in indoor public spaces starting July 18 to limit coronavirus spread

A hydroponics store in Moncton called GreenCorner has decided that there will no debate about the subject on its property.  Everyone must wear a mask inside the store, said owner Rachael MacDonald.

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“We have a lot of medical growers. They suffer from things such as diabetes and cancer, all different types of ailments, so we wanted to give them a safe space,” she said.

MacDonald said she has gotten some pushback from customers and worries about losing business over the decision, but believes it is the safest option for everyone.

“We have had a lot more (people) that are in support of it and they appreciate having a safe space to be able to shop,” said MacDonald.

Click to play video 'Who cares about coronavirus? How different generations are reacting to the pandemic' Who cares about coronavirus? How different generations are reacting to the pandemic
Who cares about coronavirus? How different generations are reacting to the pandemic – Jul 13, 2020

Some people, like Murielle Carroll of Moncton, believe that provinces in Atlantic Canada should mandate mask-wearing in indoor public places, like Quebec has recently instituted.

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“I would rather be safe than sorry,” she said.

Read more: No new coronavirus cases reported in New Brunswick on Monday

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Other Maritimers say the number of cases of the virus is so low, there’s simply no need for it.

“The numbers are pretty low here in New Brunswick and things are getting better,” said Donald Boucher of Moncton.

Halifax Transit, the public transit system in Atlantic Canada’s largest municipality, is encouraging riders to wear masks when on board buses or ferries.

Read more: Masks are now mandatory for travelers and employees: Halifax airport

But so far, masks are only mandatory on buses in New Brunswick’s major cities. In Moncton, compliance sits at about 65 to 85 per cent, according to the City of Moncton.

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health is strongly encouraging the use of masks but, last Thursday, stopped short of making them mandatory.

“Right now we are sticking with our strong recommendation but we continue to work to have things in place that if we need to go down the road of mandatory we are ready to do that,” said Dr. Robert Strang.

Click to play video 'University of Alberta study finds growing public support for face masks' University of Alberta study finds growing public support for face masks
University of Alberta study finds growing public support for face masks – Jul 12, 2020

Global News reached out to health officials in New Brunswick for their take on mandatory masks but did not receive a reply.

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Meanwhile, MacDonald says they’ll continue to mandatory here in her store for as long as Public Health recommends their use or until there is a vaccine.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

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