What Premier Pallister has to say about mandatory face masks

By | August 7, 2020

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s premier said the province will start reminding Manitobans to follow health measures and orders to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but was mum on the possibility of mandatory face masks.

During a Friday morning news conference, Premier Brian Pallister was asked if the province would make masks mandatory for Manitobans, following several businesses and communities implementing mandatory mask policies.

“We’ll follow the advice of our health experts,” Pallister told reporters.

“There’s much debate about masks, it’s become the topic of choice. I would say the most important thing to remember, and this is not to divorce ourselves from discussing masks, but the most important thing is to practice social distancing, to make sure you stay home when you’re sick, to make sure you wash your hands regularly, to make sure that you’re not touching your face, to make sure that you’re doing the right things fundamentally in the absence of a mask.”

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, has previously hinted masks could be mandated in Manitoba this fall during respiratory illness season.

Manitoba’s Health Minister Cameron Friesen said Tuesday masks are currently not mandatory for students at school, but said they could revise it depending on what happens in the fall.

Several businesses and communities have implemented mandatory mask policies.

Starting August 12, customers and employees at all Walmart Canada locations will be required to wear a mask when in the store.

Ontario’s Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU), which includes Kenora, Dryden, and Fort Frances, is making masks or face coverings mandatory in all enclosed public spaces starting Aug. 17.

In Manitoba, the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport has made masks and face coverings mandatory for everyone in the airport.

Pallister said one of his concerns about masks is complacency among people wearing masks, and that they stop following other public health recommendations, such as physical distancing.

“We’ve got to be educating each other about the dangers of these things, and reminding each other about the social distancing, even in a mask environment,” he said.

The province’s campaign to remind people about physical distancing and health measures will start next week.

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