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A doctor is calling for mandatory masks as rules are put in place at a Metro Vancouver fisherman's wharf
RICHMOND, B.C. -- Spot prawn season always draws big crowds to Fisherman's Wharf in Steveston. Now, seafood lovers need to bring more than money with them. Starting this weekend, they're required to wear a face mask if they want to buy from the boats.
“It’s very close quarters down on the actual ramp and on the fingers itself, and physical distancing is very challenging in this area,” said Glenn Chow, operations and security manager for Steveston Harbour Authority. “We have had a little bit of kickback from a few people, but in the end, if they don’t want to wear the mask, they don’t have to go down to the dock.”
Requiring masks at an outdoor attraction is unusual, but a Vancouver-born family doctor is in favour of the move.
“Because the numbers are so good in B.C., we want to keep those numbers down,” said Dr. Amy Tan, one of the organizers of Masks4Canada, a group of physicians and scientists pushing provincial governments to mandate masks.
“We’re not looking for enforcement, we’re not looking for bylaw officers to go and ticket people,” Tan said. “We’re looking at this mandating to be a expectation, that this is normalized, socialized.”
Masks4Canada is advocating for mandatory masking at all indoor locations, on transit and at crowded outdoors places like Fisherman’s Wharf.
“We know there are going to be exceptions, we know there are people who can’t (wear masks) for medical reasons or disabilities or psychological reasons, or young children less than two,” Tan said. “That’s OK. If we get to 80 per cent, it will help significantly decrease the spread.”
Only a handful of businesses require masks in B.C. Among them are Whole Foods and T&T Supermarkets. The Vancouver Aquarium reopened Friday with a mask mandate for staff and visitors.
Tan says many more businesses and attractions want to require masks, but would rather the order come from government.
“We are hearing from businesses in our national campaign who are saying, ‘Thank you, because we do want the legal coverage to be able to create a safe working environment for our employees,’” said Tan. “I have a lot of patients in essential working conditions, and as the economy is opening and more people are coming out, they are concerned for their own safety and they’ve been alarmed at the lack of masking around them.”
The mask mandate at Fisherman’s Wharf was brought in to protect workers on the boats.
“They’re on the front line providing seafood to people,” said Chow. “We want to make sure they stay safe as well.”
Some seafood sellers on the dock said they appreciate the move.
“We just want to make sure everyone is safe and having an enjoyable experience, so I think the masks are a great idea,“ said Neil Cershaw. “We have had them here at Prawns on the Spot since day one, and I’m happy to see they’ve gone forth and made it mandatory.”