Colby debating making masks mandatory for public transit

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By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative

While some municipalities across the province are making masks mandatory in all public spaces, Chatham-Kent’s chief medical officer of health is taking a more selective approach.

Dr. David Colby told reporters at a Thursday press briefing that he thinks an “oppressive universal masking law” would not be useful for a municipality with a low number of active cases. To date there are five.

Currently, Public Health already put policies in place with regard to servers in bars and restaurants, and personal service businesses such as nail salons and hairdressers. 

Colby said the next area they are looking at making masks mandatory is public transit. 

“Exactly how that might be done, we’re thinking about,” he said. “That could either be a policy, a bylaw, or an edict from myself. And the reason is that we wanted to have proper physical distancing on the transit system.”

Social distancing rules have maxed out buses leaving large groups of individuals waiting at bus stops in the middle of a heat wave. Taking direction from Toronto, Public Health wants to make masks mandatory to allow more people on the bus at once.

Colby said that masking in general is somewhat effective for containment but not very effective in a non-medical setting for protection. In the “hierarchy of protection measures,” he said physically distancing two-metres apart was the most important measure followed by engineering controls (ie. plexi-glass barriers or one-way aisles).

“Masks are not without value, but they are in distance forth in terms of importance and I really wish people would not concentrate on masking as COVID control when we have other things that are more important, and have proved their worth,” he said.

READ MORE: LETTER | Where legislated, wear a mask

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