On August 1st, amongst some controversy and a spike of Covid-19 cases, Calgary city council approved a bylaw, by a vote of 12-3, to make masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces including Calgary Transit buses, the CTrain, taxis, and Ubers.
"We need to take bold action now if we want schools to reopen, if we want kids to feel safe, if we don't want to close the economy again," Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said on July 21 during an interview with CBC. "This is critical."
People or businesses that do not comply with the bylaw could be fined between €100 to €200, but exemptions do apply.
Exemptions to Calgary's mask bylaw include:
- Children under 2 years of age
- Schools and daycares, although when students are in spaces such as hallways, and buses they must mask up. This also applies to when students and teachers are working closely in classrooms
- People with underlying medical conditions or disabilities inhibiting their ability to wear a face-covering
- People who are unable to place, use or remove a face covering safely without assistance
- People who are caregiving for or accompanying a person with a disability where wearing a face covering would hinder the accommodation of the person's disability
- Spaces in which people are separated by an installed screen, shield, or other barriers
- Places where enrolment or membership is required to access it
- Places where people are engaging in fitness activities, although people not working out are advised to wear a face-covering
Those attending a place of worship may also remove their masks temporarily to provide or receive service such as communion
Covid-19 cases on the rise in Alberta
Tom Sampson, chief of Calgary Emergency Management Agency, told CBC that he believes "we're in wave two" of the coronavirus pandemic, adding that the situation is worsening and hopefully, by taking fast action, we can prevent another lockdown.
Except for Ontario and Quebec, Alberta is one of the most hard-hit provinces in terms of active Covid-19 cases. In total, 11, 296 cases throughout the province have been confirmed since August 5—6,655 of these cases have been found in Calgary, although only 392 are currently active.
How masks help slow the spread of Covid-19
In addition to physical distancing and proper sanitization, health experts say the evidence is clear—face coverings do indeed help limit the spread of Covid-19.
Covid-19 is transmitted through direct (saliva, respiratory secretions, or secretion droplets) and indirect (contaminated objects or surfaces) contact. Both pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission is also possible as studies have found the viral load peaks in the days before symptoms begin. It also doesn't take a cough or sneeze to spread the virus—speaking is enough to expel virus-carrying droplets. People who are within 1 metre of an infected person when droplets are released can catch Covid-19 through their mouth, nose, or eyes.
Not convinced that you need to mask up? Several studies that support the efficacy of masks. Here are just a few of them:
- An experiment published in The New England Journal of Medicine used high-speed video to show how hundreds of droplets, ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers, were generated when someone said a simple phrase. The experiment also showed how nearly all these droplets were blocked when the mouth was covered by a damp washcloth.
- Another study, published in Nature Medicine, found that wearing a surgical mask while sick with influenza or the common cold significantly reduces the number of respiratory viruses emitted in droplets.
- After comparing coronavirus deaths across 198 countries, this group of researchers found that those with cultural norms or government policies favouring mask-wearing had lower death rates.
How to properly wear a face mask
In her briefing this week, Dr. Theresa Tam, the country's chief public health officer, said that physical distancing and mask-wearing could be in place for the next 2-3 years, even with a vaccine. So it's time we got acquitted with how to properly wear a face covering.
- Wash your hands before and after touching your mask
- Only touch the bands or ties of your mask when putting it on and taking it off
- Make sure your mask covers your nose, mouth, and chin
- Once you remove your mask, throw it in the wash or dispose of it
Try to avoid touching your mask when you're are wearing it. If you need to adjust it, wash your hands before and after.
A chance to support local in #YYC
Face masks offer Calgarians a chance to support their favourite local businesses. At Sirocco Fan, we wanted to do our part to not only keep people safe but help those most susceptible to the virus.
We mobilized our resources and with the help of Bret Stankowski from 9597 and Manday Grooming, we were able to source materials from Canadian companies as well as design and manufacture these products in Calgary.
For every kit purchased, we donate 20% of sales to the Mustard Seed in Calgary, as part of #adessolistens, our charitable initiative to give back and do good.