Carrie Morton, a barber in downtown Red Deer, says she doesn’t like wearing masks, but knows using them would help fight the COVID-19 threat. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Make face masks mandatory: United Nurses of Alberta to City of Red Deer

A Red Deer barber doesn’t like wearing masks, but she says they should be made mandatory in indoor public spaces, following the City of Calgary’s lead.

Carrie Morton, who works in downtown Red Deer, said putting on a mask on public transit would help curb the ongoing pandemic.

“Personally, now I am more comfortable wearing a mask, but I don’t like it,” she said, adding she wears a mask while at work.

“(Making masks mandatory) is a good idea,” she said, adding it is especially important now, when there are active cases in the city, and the central zone case numbers are spiking.

Calgary made mask wearing mandatory in indoor public spaces Tuesday. The bylaw, which comes into effect Aug. 1, was approved 12-3.

The City of Red Deer, meanwhile, has never discussed a mandatory bylaw publicly.

Premier Jason Kenney has encouraged Albertans to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but has declined to bring in provincewide legislation, noting incidents of the virus vary widely from community to community.

The United Nurses of Alberta has written letters to the province and six cities, including Red Deer, asking municipalities to make face coverings mandatory in public spaces, as well as in workplaces.

“Masking on public transit, in particular, is a necessary and effective measure to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help the Alberta economy return to normal as quickly as possible,” states the letter.

The United Nurses of Alberta’s second vice-president, Cameron Westhead, said it’s a tragedy when people get infected, become hospitalized and, in some cases, lose their lives.

Masking would be a way to honour the sacrifices that have been made, said Westhead.

The union is keeping track of trends in jurisdictions across the world, including those that have implemented mandatory masking.

“Masking is one of those interventions that has successfully helped augment those public health measures to help them either flatten the curve or keep the cases low.”

As fears of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases increase, many Canadians are reluctantly donning masks to stop the spread of the virus. That’s according to a recent Angus Reid poll that found only 55 per cent of Canadians are wearing masks regularly when they leave home. The other 45 per cent either wear masks rarely or not at all.

Every province except for Alberta and Saskatchewan registered over 70 per cent support for mandatory masking laws — the former at 60 per cent and the latter with just 55 per cent support for the measure.

A more recent poll Tuesday stated almost two-thirds of parents say they believe that children returning to school in the fall should wear masks at least part of the time.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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