VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — One Vancouver councillor wants to follow the lead of cities like Delta and Richmond and make masks mandatory inside city facilities.
Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung is bringing a motion to city council Tuesday, and she says it’s crucial to do this as winter looms.
“I want to know that we have done everything we can to keep everyone safe. I’d far rather that we take extra steps than learn later on that we should have worn masks more frequently and more consistently,” she says.
“We are in the midst of a pandemic and it is a health emergency, so if the motion passes my expectation would be that we would move quickly. The City of Vancouver did move very quickly in March to implement a state of emergency and shut down all those civic facilities. They’re reopening now and I want to make sure that we move just as quickly in reopening them and maintaining them safely.”
If council endorses the motion, the Vancouver Library Board, the Vancouver Park Board, the Vancouver Civic Theatres Board and the PNE Board will be given the city’s “encouragement to adopt a mandatory mask policy for civic facilities under their respective jurisdictions,” according to the motion.
Kirby-Yung says she has heard from workers at civic facilities who support the move to require face coverings.
“I’ve heard from workers at Park Board facilities and others that don’t currently feel safe. So I think we have to look after our staff as well as visiting members of the public,” she says.
The motion exempts children under five, people with disabilities, and people with underlying health conditions.
Those who can’t afford or access masks will be provided with them, according to Kirby-Yung.
“We have had a number of organizations offer to donate masks. The City of Vancouver does have federal restart and support funding. I think the provision of masks would be designed to overcome any barriers for people that may not be able to access or afford them.”
However, in a letter to Kirby-Yung, Patricia Daly chief medical health officer at VCH and Dr. Mark Lysyshyn Deputy Chief Medical Health officer say they do not support mandatory non-medical mask policies.
The Oct. 13 letter reads in part: “Given the excellent COVID-19 safety plans in place at City facilities, and the relatively low rate of COVID-19 infection in the local population, there is no justification for a mandatory non-medical mask policy in City of Vancouver facilities at this time and we strongly recommend that it not be pursued.”
Masks are mandated by BC Ferries, TransLink, and some private companies like Walmart and Starbucks.
– With files from Kurtis DoeringCity Council Mandatory Mask Motion