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Surrey mayor 'awfully close' to mandating masks in city

Last Updated Nov 19, 2020 at 6:46 am PST

Summary

Surrey mayor says a mask mandate may be in order

But for now, he says he's optimistic pandemic can be defeated if residents pay attention to health officials advice

SURREY (CityNews) — As cases rise in the Fraser Health region, Surrey’s mayor says the city is on the brink of mandating masks.

“I’m very, very close to saying that we should all wear masks,” Doug McCallum said.

“I mean, if the numbers keep going up we have to look there but right now, I’m just on the edge of that.”

McCallum’s comments come after another day of record-high increases with case numbers and a second consecutive day of double-digit deaths.

More than 60 per cent of the newest cases reported in B.C. are in the Fraser Health Region but if Surrey residents follow the provincial health advice, McCallum says he is optimistic that the pandemic can be defeated with vaccines rounding the corner.

RELATED: Surrey city councillor wants COVID-19 enforcement measures stepped up

The mayor’s hint about a possible mask mandate also comes after the busy Diwali holiday that saw families encouraged to stay home and forgo family celebrations.

“There’s hope on the horizon,” McCallum said, adding a message for multi-generational families who may be sharing homes.

“Most of our houses do have one, two or three generations and some are very big houses. So they have to recognize we just want small groups and maybe one generation on the first floor and the second one on the second and third on the third. We need to stay in small groups, even in our houses.”

Surrey has also seen a high rate of COVID-19 in schools compared to other B.C. and Lower Mainland districts. Sixteen Surrey schools were listed as having COVID exposures on Tuesday.

“I also want to say to all our residents that I’m very proud of them so far. The majority of them have really worked hard on preventing catching this virus. They’ve done a really good job,” McCallum added.

The mayor did not specify exactly what a city-enforced mandate might look like or what sort of timeline could be expected.

Meanwhile critics of policing and enforcement of COVID rules say sending bylaw officers or police to ticket those without masks is likely to create more opportunities for the virus to spread through officers