A man wears a face mask as he sits on a bench in Montreal, Saturday, June 27, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

A man wears a face mask as he sits on a bench in Montreal, Saturday, June 27, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

As provincial leaders across the country ease restrictions put in place to curb COVID-19, health officials are reminding Canadians to be diligent while stopping short of making non-medical masks mandatory.

But a new online poll from Leger released this week suggests that a bit more than half of Canadians would support such regulations.

Fifty-eight per cent of the 1,524 respondents surveyed said they feel that people should wear protective masks when out in public or in confined areas such as grocery stores, shopping malls or while on public transit.

Thirty-three per cent disagreed while nine per cent weren’t sure.

In B.C., a majority of the 207 respondents – or 52 per cent – agreed that non-medical masks should be mandatory, while 41 per cent disagreed.

Of the further 1,005 people surveyed from the U.S., 70 per cent said they think the government should make masks mandatory.

Recommendations on non-medical masks have been confusing for many in Canada. In May, chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam unveiled her final stance on the protective measure stating that it is recommended when physical distancing is not possible.

“Use of non-medical masks is recommended as an added layer of protection when physical distancing is difficult to maintain,” Tam said, adding that people should stay home if they feel sick.

“Hand-washing is the right accessory for all venues and accessories.”

COVID-19: Six handwashing mistakes to avoid

As B.C. enters Phase Three in its restart plan, business owners are having to make individual decisions on masks among their staff and customers.

On Monday, Cineplex Inc. announced it would be reopening Friday and that masks would be recommended – available free of charge for those who forget theirs at home.

In May, Costco also recommended its shoppers wear face masks in order to curb the possible spread of COVID-19.


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