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Canada's top doctor recommends wearing non-medical masks when distancing difficult

Last Updated May 20, 2020 at 10:36 am PDT

FILE - Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Tam says a COVID-19 outbreak gripping the northern Saskatchewan community of La Loche is an area of concern.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Dr. Tam said the recommendation is not mandatory nationwide

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau started wearing non-medical mask on Wednesday

Use of non-medical or face coverings is recommended as an added layor of protection: Tam

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — As provinces start to allow businesses and services to resume, Canada’s top doctor is recommending everyone wear a non-medical face mask when they can’t keep two metres apart from others.

“I know this may not be the grand reopening we might have liked, but we won’t get through this on hope alone,” said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

She added the official recommendation will remain in place for the next few months, along with proper cough etiquette, and hand washing.

“If we can all maintain these measures to the best of our ability, we stand the best chance of keeping COVID-19 activity down through the spring and summer.”

Tam said the recommendation is not mandatory nationwide, as pandemic levels are not even across the country. However, she said lower levels of government could make masks mandatory.

“Use of non-medical or face coverings is recommended as an added layer of protection,” she said.

“From our perspective, it is an added layer of protection. It is for you to protect others. So if two people are wearing masks, I’m protecting you and you are protecting me,” Tam said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau started wearing one Wednesday.

He said he’ll be wearing a mask in Parliament during in-person sittings, but will take it off when he gets to his seat. He’ll put it back on when he leaves.

“When it is possible for me to keep two metres distance from people, that is what I prefer to do,” he said.

“In situations where I’m either walking through the halls of parliament or going to my office and coming in proximity of people, I’ve chosen to start wearing a mask.”

B.C. Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday that wearing non-medical masks is an additional measure to keep droplets in and protect others.

“So it’s not something you do instead of, but we should be, I believe, at this point, prepared to wear a non-medical mask in certain situations where we cannot maintain our physical distance,” she added.

“So if I’m sitting on a bus and there’s somebody that is three feet away from me instead of six feet away from me, if we both have masks on, that’s a good thing. If I’m getting my hair done, which I expect to do hopefully soon, you know, I will wear a mask and so will my person who’s doing my hair so that we can protect each other for that period of time.”