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Doctors warn against ditching face masks

CALGARY — Alberta premier Jason Kenney says after 70 per cent of the province’s eligible population has been vaccinated, face masks will no longer be mandatory indoors as part of Stage 3 of the reopening plan — but will we really be ready to ditch the mask?

ER doctor, Shazma Mithani, asked that question in a Twitter poll on Sunday, with more than 60 per cent of respondents saying even with all the restrictions lifted, they will continue to wear masks indoors.

Twelve per cent said wearing a mask depends on the situation.

“It’s like a handful of people that unfollowed me, I can only speculate probably because I was asking a leading question,” said Mithani. “A lot of them have been saying they will continue to mask indoors to ensure that their kids are safe and they are setting a good example. Other people said that in public spaces with large groups of people they don’t know indoors that they would mask. It’s like using their judgement in situations, where it makes the most sense.”

Some medical experts fear making masks optional will undo all the hard work done to control COVID-19 case numbers in the province.

“We are so close to getting control of this pandemic and getting levels that are low and that we can continue to suppress, but instead we have a government that is more focused on short term wins and gaining political favours,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Ilan Schwartz. “They are making decisions that compromise public safety.”



Doctors like Schwartz say people need to continue wearing masks indoors as a single dose of vaccine is not guaranteed to protect someone from contracting COVID-19.

“There has been a lot of advocacy behind having these public health restrictions, so to throw them away in the rubbish bin without any regard for how we are going to prevent further infections especially severity and invasion of the delta variant, is very short-sighted,” Schwartz said.