About a year ago, our newsroom published one of our first – of what turned out to be multiple – editorials that have pertained to the topic of mandatory masking. In the 12 months since then, public debate over wearing face masks has, for some reason, been a hotly contested and politicized issue.
With mandatory masking being lifted by the Alberta government on July 1, the topic has recently been back at the forefront of public discussion. On July 5, Calgary’s City council held an hours-long meeting that was devoted strictly to whether or not they should repeal the city’s mandatory masking bylaw. Calgary’s bylaw was officially lifted following a 10-4 vote, after a fair share of bickering and political showmanship among council members.
It’s quite clear many people in Alberta are pleased the masking mandate has been lifted. Head into any big box store or business and you’ll see plenty of people not wearing them.
While the number of vaccinated Albertans mean masks are no longer mandatory, we as a newsroom would still encourage residents to at least keep masks on their person for situations where they find themselves in busy public settings, or when physical distancing is not possible. Let's not forget there are still more than a million Albertans who have not been vaccinated, and nearly half of the province's eligible residents are still awaiting a second dose. Another spike in cases is still definitely possible.
Another reason to occasionally don a mask is that people working on the front lines or in busy retail settings have to interact with dozens – if not hundreds – of customers a day, and many of these shoppers are not vaccinated. Like washing your hands after using the bathroom, it’s a common courtesy to wear a face-covering in these situations, as the vast majority of health professionals agree masking is an instrumental method of limiting viral transmission.