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OPINION: Not wearing a mask should be the new smoking come September

"The only way to protect me is to protect you. With a mask."
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Photo via Pixabay

As we enter the third month of the pandemic, it’s encouraging to see that things are starting to change a bit. B.C. has done an exemplary job of navigating the coronavirus, and we are on the verge of more activities being opened up again. Kids are playing in parks. Stores and restaurants are opening. It almost feels like normal again.

And that’s what scares me most.

Letting our guard down, as has happened in many places, has brought the virus back. Reading about a doctor in New Brunswick that travels to Quebec, returns home and spreads the virus so quickly just shows how vulnerable we still are.

What makes it more confusing is the fact there are still new things we are learning. Masks don’t work! Wait, wear a mask! You can get it again! Wait, those were false positives! Even the WHO had to walk back comments it made one day to the next about the virus spreading.

As I watch all of this (and I’ve tried not to watch as much as I did initially), there’s one thing I keep coming back to: the only way to protect me is to protect you. With a mask.

It seems the virus doesn’t spread as well outdoors. That’s great because it’s almost summer and we’ll all be outside for a while. But come September, when the weather turns cooler, we’ll all go back inside and that’s when the second wave could hit.

My guess is, by the end of September, wearing a mask should be like smoking, only the opposite. Wherever you are not allowed to smoke is a place you should be wearing a mask. The only exception is a restaurant or bar, because it’s really tough to consume anything through a mask, and cutting a hole in it defeats the purpose.

In our society, we have become very comfortable with keeping smokers away from others. You get that corner outside over here, there’s your ashtray, it’s your choice. Smoke anywhere else and it’s a fine. Period.

That’s how we’ll need to be with masks, if we have any hope of avoiding a second wave. Don’t want to wear one? Prepare for a fine.

I know there are people who can’t wear them for good reasons, but as a society we can’t sacrifice the safety of so many to accommodate so few. If you have a good reason, then you don’t pay the fine. As long as the people handing our tickets aren’t as draconian as they are in Ontario, we should be OK.

I was at Costco a week ago. I had my own mask, but they handed them out. For the most part, people were wearing them. But there were a few that weren’t. I found myself getting angry they didn’t. I didn’t say anything, but I wanted to. I’m surprised the store didn’t. It’s now a rule, follow it or leave. Simple as that.

I can’t see the country going into lockdown again. The only way to avoid that is to stop spreading the virus. If all it takes is wearing a mask, that’s so little to ask. We’re Canadian, make it a rule, we’ll follow it. For the most part.

Smoking kills. So can COVID-19. Keep smoke and germs away from those around you. Please.

Brad Sherwin, MBA is a long-time resident of South Delta, and has over 30 years’ experience in marketing, public relations and business strategy. He teaches marketing at Douglas College, coaches hockey goalies and is past president of Deltassist.

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