are face masks mandatory in ontario

Health professionals are asking Ontario to make face masks mandatory

A long list of doctors, dentists, scientists, nurses and other health professionals released an open letter today calling on the province to make masks mandatory in indoor spaces as Ontario moves closer to entering Stage 2 of reopening the economy.

Participating science and medical professionals say the government should make mask usage mandatory in all indoor spaces outside the home, in crowded spaces where physical distancing is difficult, and on public transit. They say the need for this change is all the more urgent due to the incipient reopening of Canadian society.

The letter is addressed to Ontario's Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams,  Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam, Minister of Health Patty Hajdu and Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott, and it outlines several reasons why the experts say masks should be mandatory, all of which are based on scientific research and literature.

"We are respectfully requesting that strong consideration be given to the recommendation of mandatory mask policies to help protect more Canadians," the letter reads. 

"In addition to current physical distancing measures and hand hygiene, masks are critical in order to ensure a safe reopening, prevent additional outbreaks, and save lives."

The medical science professionals say they feel there is sufficient evidence to prove the utility of masks when it comes to curbing the spread of the virus between individuals, and they also say a lack of evidence of harm from masks just further proves their point. 

The letter cites information from both the latest guidance from the World Health Organization and two scientific reviews to back up their points, and they also highlight the recent Leger poll which found that just 48 per cent of people are wearing masks in Canada. 

They also point to research that states that a minimum of 60-80 per cent mask use is required to have a significant impact.

Additionally, they say strong evidence of asymptomatic and presymptomatic spread is yet another reason to require mask usage. 

The letter also notes that they believe anyone with a relevant medical condition or disability should be exempt from this policy, and the same should go for young children under the age of two. 

"We recommend distribution of masks to populations that may be vulnerable and/or at higher risk, in order to reduce inequity," they added.

"Furthermore, we recommend minimizing fines, arrests, or criminal penalties to enforce the policy. Instead, we encourage public education to help the public understand how to wear a mask properly, and the importance of masks for health and economic recovery."

Any medical or scientific professionals are being encouraged to add their name to the letter, which has already garnered more than six-pages-worth of signatures.

"We believe it should be at the discretion of subnational jurisdictions as to whether mandatory masking is implemented, but in locations of high population density and/or where community spread is ongoing, it should be mandated," they wrote.

"My mask protects you, your mask protects me, we all protect society."

Lead photo by

Arturo Rey

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