Health officials now recommending non-medical masks if you can’t physically distance

Health officials now recommending non-medical masks if you can't physically distance
WatchFederal officials are now officially recommending non-medical masks when physical distancing isn't possible. Tess van Straaten reports.

From running errands to getting your hair cut, non-medical masks are our new normal as the economy reopens.

“It’s added protection,” says Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. “If two people are wearing masks, I’m protecting you and you are protecting me.”

Canada’s top doctor is now recommending non-medical masks for public transit, getting groceries, and anytime physical distancing can’t be guaranteed.

“If you can’t predict whether you can maintain that two-metre distance, then it’s recommended that you wear the non-medical mask,” Dr. Tam says.

Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was sporting one as he arrived on Parliament Hill Wednesday morning and he plans to wear one in the hallways of the House of Commons.

“Once I’m at my desk in Parliament, and two metres separate from everyone else, I will take off my mask so I can engage in parliamentary discourse,” Trudeau says.

It’s a big change from March when health officials said non-medical masks weren’t helpful for those without symptoms.

But part of the problem is people aren’t wearing them properly.

Touching and fussing with a mask while you’re out contaminates it and if they fall down or aren’t on right, they’re not effective.

“It’s not comfortable, it’s very hot in there,” says George Voulakis, a barber at Jimmy’s Barber Shop, whose mask kept falling down. “I’m not comfortable but safety comes first.”

Even Island’s Health’s top doctor has some reservations.

“Masks are still something that is still contentious and certainly, the WorkSafe guidelines, they do speak to the use of masks,” says Dr. Richard Stanwick, Chief Medical Health Officer for Island Health  “There are a few little tweaks that we think need to be refined in terms of the mask usage.”

If the pandemic worsens, officials say masks could become mandatory in public.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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