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Mandatory masks not necessary inside city-owned buildings: VCH's top doctors

Vancouver's top medical health officers are 'strongly' opposed to the possibility of a mandatory mask policy inside city-owned buildings
A Vancouver councillor wants masks worn in civic facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Photo: Sarah Kirby-Yung website

Top medical health officers of Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) are “strongly recommending” against the implementation of mandatory face masks inside city-owned buildings after a motion was proposed by a Vancouver councilor, advocating for such a policy.

There’s just no justification for it, reads a joint statement from Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer, and Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, deputy chief medical health officer for the region.

Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung has planned a push for the motion for an Oct. 20 council meeting.

She thinks Vancouver should follow in the footsteps of municipalities including Delta and Richmond, who recently ruled that visitors should be made to wear masks inside all civic facilities.

But the VCH medical health officers say it just isn't necessary with the current "flattening of reported cases" in Vancouver.

As a measure to reduce COVID-19 spread, non-medical mask-wearing “should not replace more effective measures,” the letter adds, promoting instead for residents to keep a physical distance from one another.

The doctors added that purchasing face coverings may also "create additional financial costs for struggling households.”

“Any move to make non-medical mask-wearing mandatory could create barriers and risks for vulnerable people, such as a lack of access to essential services and the experience of further stigmatization and marginalization if they are unable to afford or wear such items."

Though Kirby-Yung’s motion excludes those with underlying medical conditions or disabilities, the health authority worries it would be inappropriate to enforce.

“Masks cannot be tolerated by everyone, including those with certain underlying medical conditions, and municipal staff [is] not in a position to determine who might qualify for an exemption to the policy," the doctors stressed.