While sipping a coffee in Station Mall last week I was reading a story on the Internet about the Alberta government refusing to mandate the wearing of masks, even though the Covid-19 coronavirus is surging in the province.
One paragraph jumped off the page at me.
It said Alberta was the only province not to have mandated the wearing of face coverings.
That was news to me.
In fact, I have been beating up on our city council for not coming up with a bylaw mandating their use in the Sault, replacing the mask-use policy put forward by Algoma Public Health that really doesn’t have any teeth.
As some friends joined me, I asked them if they had heard about the government’s mask mandate..
So later I turned to the Internet to find out what the government had done and how the news had escaped me.
I discovered the government had announced the mask mandate on Oct. 2.
However where I, with my obsession about the wearing of masks, would have considered this major news, it seemed neither the government itself nor the major news outlets saw it that way.
In the media release accompanying an announcement by Premier Doug Ford in regard to a multitude of new restrictions in the fight against the virus, the news regarding the wearing of masks did not come until the last sentence in the 10th paragraph.
Both the CBC and CTV gave one line to it in the eighth paragraphs of their stories.
Among newspapers, The Sarnia Observer included the mask mandate in the lead of its story on new restrictions put in place by the government.
But enough of the excuses for my missing the news.
I really don’t think much of the government’s move anyway because it doesn’t do the job. It simply places the onus on businesses and organizations to police the mask ban, whereas I believe it should also be aimed at individuals and include penalties for non-compliance
This is the 10th paragraph of the news release:
“As the number of new cases continues to rise, the province is taking decisive action to prevent and stop the spread of the virus and avoid future lockdowns. These new restrictions were adopted through the amended order O. Reg 364/20 (Rules for Areas in Stage 3 under the Reopening Ontario [A Flexible Response to COVID-19] Act, 2020). They include mandating the use of face coverings in all public indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions, including corrections and developmental services.”
This is the amendment order to the Reopening Ontario Act under the heading General compliance:
“2. (4) The person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall ensure that any person in the indoor area of the premises of the business or organization, or in a vehicle that is operating as part of the business or organization, wears a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin during any period when they are in the indoor area unless the person in the indoor area,” from here on it provides a list of exceptions.
Ontario is not alone in coming up with a law without teeth.
Nova Scotia mandated the wearing of masks back in July but said at the time it would not be enforced.
In Saskatchewan it is mandatory in centres with a population over 5,000, which takes in 59 communities with about 65% of the population.
Steve McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, urged each Saskatchewan resident and business to hold each other accountable to follow the mask mandate. If a business is disregarding the rules, people should avoid it, he said.
Quebec, B.C. and Manitoba have lowered the hammer.
In September Quebec announced that its citizens who did not comply with public health guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic – particularly, those who don’t wear masks inside public places and on public transit would be subject to fines
“The vast majority of Quebecers respect health rules and I thank them for that,” Minister of Public Safety Genevieve Guilbault said .
“But for the recalcitrant, the fines for refusing to wear a mask in indoor public places will range from $400 to $6,000. This tool will be available to police from tomorrow (Sept. 10).”
Last week B.C. made the wearing of masks mandatory and anyone who is caught without a mask in an indoor public place or who refuses to comply with the mask mandate will be subject to a $230 fine. Manitobans face a $298 fine.
Ontario has announced no penalties for its mandated use of masks. In fact, it has taken the chicken way out, unfairly placing enforcement of its new mask mandate squarely on the shoulders of the owners of businesses or officers of organizations.
There are some who are against any penalties, believing they will only result in more pushback from those who are dead-set against the wearing of masks. And there is plenty of pushback already in evidence, some of the crazies resorting to violence when refused entrance to a business or their not wearing a mask is pointed out.
But I believe when we are involved in a war, and we are in a war in regard to Covid-19, that we must be prepared to give up some individual rights.
So I find myself, in view of the Ontario government’s misguided effort and the fact that more people in this city can be seen not wearing masks, still imploring our city council to come up with a local bylaw mandating the use of masks and, as is the case in the city of London, with accompanying fines attached.