B.C. doctors call for mandatory public mask use
VICTORIA -- Dozens of B.C. doctors have signed an open letter calling on the provincial government to mandate the use of masks in a number of public settings to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
More than 80 doctors based in British Columbia say that mask use should be mandatory on public transit, when inside of a crowd and at "all indoor spaces outside the home," including businesses, hospitals and schools.
“Mandating mask wearing is important because previous public health interventions, such as seatbelts and bicycle helmets, have required laws for increased compliance by the public,” reads the open letter.
“Furthermore, there is no evidence of harm from use of masks.”
While provincial health officials have encouraged the use of masks over the past several months, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has fallen short of mandating their use.
She has said, however, that masks should be used in settings where physical distancing is hard to maintain, like aboard public transit.
B.C.’s top doctor has so far left mandating masks to specific industries. BC Transit, for instance, has been considering making masks mandatory for riders, a decision Henry says would be appropriate.
"I think that’s a particularly good option," said Henry on July 30. "I would encourage everybody to use masks in those settings where it’s not always possible to maintain your safe distance."
Neither Henry nor BC Transit have announced a policy that require mask use yet, however.
The doctors who have signed the open letter say they are not looking to penalize British Columbians who do not wear masks, but would instead like to see a largescale education campaign to encourage mask use.
Meanwhile, the concerned physicians say that mask use should be focused in high population density locations or where community spread has occurred.
“My mask protects you, your mask protects me, we all protect society,” reads the open letter.
Similar open letters that have been signed by Canadian doctors have appeared in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
In total, more than 1,700 physicians have signed these open letters, dubbed the Masks4Canada campaign, across the country.