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Thousands sign petition to make masks mandatory in B.C. public spaces

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Sep 4, 2020 at 11:27 am PDT

FILE - People wear face masks as they walk through Central Station in Montreal, Sunday, July 19, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. The wearing of masks or protective face coverings is mandatory in Quebec as of July 18. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

A petition calling to make masks mandatory in all B.C. public spaces has gathered thousands of signatures

Person who launched petition says mandatory masks could play critical role in slowing transmission of COVID-19

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – An online petition pushing for mandatory mask usage in B.C. has garnered thousands of signatures.

The petition was started by Vancouverite Ben Hynes, who says as new case counts rise, mandatory masks in public spaces could play a critical role in curbing transmission rates of COVID-19.

“Now is the time to capitalize on our hard work by mandating mandatory mask usage in shared public spaces,” the petition reads.

Hynes writes that by Sept. 1, projections show that “an additional 15 Canadians will die [of COVID-19] every day” if action isn’t taken.

“For something as trivial as leaving the house with a cloth or medical mask, the answer is clear,” the change.org petition reads.

Hynes says he’s urging the B.C. Ministry of Health to enforce this rule to “save lives,” adding, “Together, we can get through this.”

Last month, 80 doctors in the province signed an open letter calling on top health officials to make masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces, crowds, and transit.

The doctors said there is no evidence of harm from the use of masks and cited research that suggests a 60 to 80 per cent public usage of masks can significantly reduce the basic reproductive number of the coronavirus.

“The reopening of B.C.’s economy will inevitably cause an increased risk of community spread,” the open letter, dated Aug. 4, reads, adding more than 75 per cent of British Columbians expressed support for such a policy in a recent poll at the time.

Hynes’ petition gathered more than 4,700 signatures as of Friday morning, nearing its goal of 5,000.

Dr. Bonnie Henry has repeatedly referred to masks as the “least effective” of the many protocols and practices we have in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.