CALGARY (660 NEWS) – It’s become a firm fixture for many Canadians, masking up as we leave our homes. But that may soon come to an end, and experts are concerned.
“I’m concerned that the removal of mask mandates is being rushed,” said Amy Kaler, professor in the sociology department at the University of Alberta.
“The end of mask mandates could mean that a subset of the population stays home even more.
“I think comfort levels among many people would be a lot higher if we were another month into cases are flat, everything’s good, you know, not 60 or 70 per cent, but 80 or 90 per cent of the population is vaccinated.”
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Kaler is also watching for conflict between those who choose to mask and those who don’t.
“It would be very unfortunate if people who choose to continue to wear masks are subject to snarky remarks, drive-by teasing, that kind of thing.”
The divide is also represented in city halls. Both Calgary and Edmonton councils have seen much debate on the topic, both cities pushing back their decisions until July 5 and 25, respectively.
And it’s not just Kaler. An infectious disease expert says the wait should be longer, especially with how dangerous the delta variant is to those with just one dose, many of whom are young frontline workers.
“Not everybody’s had an opportunity to have a second dose or critically, to have enough time after a second dose to develop full immunity. So there is still a need for additional public health measures on top of vaccination,” explained Dr. Craig Jenne, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Calgary.
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“They’re forced with the decision if there’s no mask bylaw, do I risk my health by going to work or do I not work?”
And masks are a simple protective measure.
“Not only is it easy, it’s something we’ve been doing for almost a year now. So this is not asking people to take on any additional burden. And by maintaining things such as masking indoors, we can get to opening some of these other activities in the community. So it’s a bit of trade-off, if we want things open, we need to limit the risk of viral spread,” said Jenne.
Jenne would like to see the mask bylaw stay in place until everyone in Alberta who wants second dose immunity gets it.