Letters and Editorials 905 Views Peter Tremblay

Making masks mandatory is the wrong move for Ottawa

Masks or face coverings are now mandatory for anyone visiting indoor public places in Ottawa. This directive was recently issued by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches who stated that "Increasing scientific evidence supports wearing a mask when in enclosed public spaces as an important measure in reducing COVID-19 transmission, while the risk of rising rates of infection continues."

This directive though accepted by many members of the public seems unnecessary and coming at the wrong time. First, because there have been very few new reported cases in recent times and there continue to be no reported deaths for over a week. According to a report on Ottawamatters, the number of covid19 deaths in Ottawa, have remained the same for since June 25th.

The city’s active COVID 19 cases are currently mostly associated with extended care facilities and not from community spread. For most of June 2020, Ottawa’s virus testing identified less than five cases daily. So with the number of cases going down all around the city, it’s tough to see reasons why the government is taking such measures at this time.

According to the WHO, seasonal influenza kills up to 650, 000 people every year. The infection has been around for over a hundred years, why has everyone waited until this moment to be concerned with wearing a mask? This only proves that this mask policy is not necessarily guided by scientific evidence as Dr. Etches claims.

Recently, the WHO has changed its stance on mask-wearing to advise that governments should encourage the general public to wear masks where there are widespread transmission and physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport, in shops or other confined or crowded environments.

City of Ottawa technocrats led by Dr Vera Etches have taken the WHO’s advice a step further by mandating (and not advising) that "Every Operator of an Enclosed Public Space shall adopt a policy to ensure that no member of the public is permitted to enter or remain in the public areas of the Enclosed Public Space unless he or she is wearing a Mask in a manner that covers their nose, mouth and chin."

This mandate seems a lot like tyranny mostly because there was a lack of consultation with the city council before this directive was issued. The Ottawa City Council will vote July 15 on a motion to institute a by-law ensuring that residents of Ottawa wear a cloth mask that "covers their nose, mouth and chin

It is one thing to ask, advice, and recommend that people wear masks just as the WHO has recommended. But to threaten legal consequences for those who do not follow the recommendations is going overboard. Individual liberties keep getting violated more and more every day.

It is worth noting that a recent Ottawa Public Health survey found that most citizens already wear masks voluntarily. The Survey found that 71 percent of residents wore a mask in indoor public spaces either "most of the time" or "always". This begs the question, ‘why make masks mandatory?’

By regulating the wearing of masks, we are once again arbitrarily increasing police power. This is an unnecessary infringement on the individual liberties of members of the society by the government. 


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