Make Masks Mandatory in Greater Vancouver
This petition made change with 16,699 supporters!
British Columbia is setting record highs in cases on a near daily bases. There are now more active cases in the province than at any other time during the pandemic. Along with that are thousands more who are self-isolating.
The majority of current and new cases arise within the Greater Vancouver area, yet Vancouver and Surrey are the only major cities in Canada without a mask mandate.
I am a professor in Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University with expertise in population and public health and I am asking the Greater Vancouver and provincial health authorities to implement a temporary mask mandate in Greater Vancouver.
A temporary mask mandate is not meant to replace other public health measures such as physical distancing, but physical distancing is not foolproof. Superspreader events tell us indoor transmission can occur beyond two metres and keeping a two metre distance is not always possible. The Public Health Agency of Canada has recently indicated the virus may linger in the air limiting the effect of distancing.
Mask mandates work:
- Mask mandates get more people using masks. Recommendations asking for volunteer use only go so far. Translink’s mask mandate resulted in an increase in mask use from approximately 40% to 92%.
- A recent briefing by British Columbia’s Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Gustafson attributed the lack of spread on public transit to the mask mandate.
- A study done at Simon Fraser University found mask mandates in Ontario associated with more than 25% fewer weekly cases.
- It’s also been estimated that more than 130,000 deaths in the US could be prevented over winter with universal mask use.
- 77% of British Columbians support mask mandates as do the overwhelming number of healthcare professionals; those people who are putting their health on the line each day.
- Mask use does not lead to a false sense of security and lead people to ignore other measures.
The current messaging from local and provincial health authorities has created a piecemeal approach where some places have mandates and others do not, leading to confusion and reduced compliance, and therefore, reduced effectiveness. This ambiguity also makes it challenging for small business owners who wish to enforce mask use to protect their employees and costumers. Many are concerned about a loss of business if the mandate does not come from the province or some similar authority.
The benefits of a temporary mask mandate include:
- Greater mask use.
- Reduced number of cases.
- Less people isolating.
- Fewer hospitalizations and deaths.
- Less reliance on restrictive and devastating public health measures.
- Reduced job losses from fewer public health restrictions.
As with mask mandates in other Canadian jurisdictions, a temporary mask mandate in the Greater Vancouver could exempt people with physical and cognitive challenges and children. With temporary allowances for mask removal while eating or exercising.
Mask mandates = more mask use = less cases = less restrictions, job losses, hospitalizations and deaths
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