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As COVID-19 cases surge in B.C., why aren’t masks mandatory?

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Coronavirus: Small businesses in B.C. call for provincial health order on masks – Nov 13, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many British Columbians have become accustomed to not leaving their home without a mask.

Face coverings are strongly encouraged in B.C. and are required at many businesses as well as on public transit and BC Ferries, but masks are not mandated by the provincial government.

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As COVID-19 cases climb, petition launched to make masks mandatory in BC – Nov 13, 2020

Scott Lear, a professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University, has started an online petition calling for a mandatory mask policy across Metro Vancouver.

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“It’s past time, honestly,” Lear said. “Using masks is a preventive strategy.”

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“Other cities, like Edmonton, Calgary, all throughout the rest of Canada, have broad-ranging mask mandates.”

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BC’s top doctor isn’t sold on the idea.

“We have always said that these individual measures are ones that we expect people to do and we’ve seen that that is the way that people have responded to that,” Henry said.

The science behind masks has accelerated. The Public Health Agency of Canada now recommends three-layer, non-medical masks with a filter to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Henry said she expects people will do the right thing.

Read more: CDC now says face masks can protect wearer from coronavirus

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“I would encourage particularly some of the larger businesses, this needs to be part of your safety protocols and that’s more enforceable than my telling people that it’s an order that you wear a mask,” she said.

Lear said businesses have enough challenges, adding public health issues should be managed and enforced by public health leaders.

Read more: B.C. on track to see 1,000 new COVID-19 cases a day if changes not made: Modelling numbers

“Waiting too long is kind of like being in a car accident and then putting on your seatbelt,” he said.

During Thursday’s press briefing, Henry released new modelling data that suggested B.C. could hit 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day if British Columbians don’t limit their interactions.