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Opinion: Don't make masks the law

opinion editorial stock

The question of whether masking should be mandatory is top of mind these days.

It has been proven masks are effective at protecting others from those who wear them. With that in mind, many are watching the number of COVID cases climb since the Alberta government’s relaunch strategy began in May and crying out for legislation to enforce masking.

Yes, masks are effective, but mandating their use could have long-range and potentially damaging effects for the province’s economy.

The primary concern is indoor spaces - transit, stores and other public facilities, where people may be in close contact with others or, in the case of grocery stores or markets, with items others will pick up to take home. In these cases, business owners, event organizers or facility managers should be given the option to mandate mask-wearing on the premises.

Many hairstylists, spas, medical clinics and other businesses with close personal contact already have these policies in place to protect staff and clients.

But a blanket legislation is not the answer.

Consider businesses like restaurants or pubs, recreation facilities like gyms or courts, where staff cover up but wearing a mask is less than ideal for customers. A provincial law mandating public masking could cause irreparable damage to the bottom line of these businesses - people aren’t likely to dine out or work out with a mask on.

At the very least, masks would be rendered ineffective if customers had to lift or remove them to eat and drink.
Legislation could be a hit to an economy that is already struggling to recover from an unprecedented shutdown.

So let’s all do our part to prevent mandatory masks by wearing them voluntarily when visiting businesses like grocery stores or hopping on public transit.

It could save lives, livelihoods, the economy, and freedom.