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Doctors advocating to make non-medical masks mandatory across the country

Last Updated Jun 19, 2020 at 7:34 am PDT

People, some wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, listen to a speaker as they gather to give signatures in support of potential presidential candidates in the upcoming presidential elections in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, May 24, 2020. The presidential campaign is underway in Belarus despite the coronavirus outbreak after the parliament and government refused to postpone the election scheduled for August 9. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

CALGARY (660NEWS) — A national group of health-care professionals have penned an open letter to federal health officials requesting masks become mandatory.

The letter was sent by Masks4Canada, providing their thoughts on the use of non-medical face coverings saying masks should be an addition to current physical distancing measures and hand hygiene as it would play a critical role in protecting the public.

“We are asking for provincial jurisdictions and health authorities to make masks mandatory in Alberta and In Canada in order to try to achieve an 80 per cent community use of masks in high-risk situation to help contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Amy Tan, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Calgary and a member of the group.

There is emerging evidence to show that the use of non-medical cloth masks can help to protect the economy all while keeping the spread of coronavirus down, she added.

“There is one study out of Yale that has shown on the low end, the use of one cloth mask can save the economy $3,000 to $6,000 U.S.”

Masks4Canada wants to see face covering used in all indoor spaces outside the home, in crowds where physical distancing measures can’t be followed and on public transit.

The group isn’t looking to mask shame individuals or encouraging fines to be issued but would like the public to be more educated on the benefits of using face coverings.

“I think as there is more of a normalization of the masking until we get a vaccine, I think the mandating of this will help to have the public understand how important this is for the economy and for citizens,” said Tan.

On Monday, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said they are closely watching developing evidence on the use of non-medical masks but are not making them mandatory at this stage.

“Before we make any kind of public health measure mandatory, we would need to carefully consider the pros and cons of that and any potential unintended consequences,” said Hinshaw.

Hinshaw does encourage Albertans to wear masks in public places if they will be in a space where physical distancing is hard to maintain.