Toronto mandating masks indoors, will Metro Vancouver follow their lead?
VANCOUVER -- Starting July 7, face masks will be required at public indoor spaces in Toronto. With Canada’s largest city bringing in a mask mandate, municipal governments in Metro Vancouver say they’re taking direction on the issue from Dr. Bonnie Henry.
"In Metro Vancouver we have always taken the lead from the provincial health officer," said Metro Vancouver board chair Sav Dhaliwal. "We believe we are politicians we are not doctors, we can’t really second guess the good work that’s going on."
Dr. Henry says she wears a mask indoors and strongly encourages others to do the same, but because Metro Vancouver’s COVID-19 numbers are much lower than Toronto’s, she doesn’t think it needs to be mandated.
"It depends very much on your transmission in your community, so I do not believe we are at the point that we need to mandate it, and I don’t believe we have been there," said Henry. "I don’t believe we need to go that enforcement route with mask wearing."
But with a second wave expected in the fall, that doesn’t mean masks won’t become mandatory at some point down the road.
"We may, if we end up during respiratory season with a surge, it may become more of a directive that we will require people to wear masks in some indoor situations, if we we start to see a lot of more transmission in our communities," said Henry. "But we are not at that point right now."
Even though B.C.’s COVID numbers remain low, a Vancouver-born doctor with a nationwide group called Masks4Canada would like to see an indoor mask requirement, suggesting a province-wide rule would work better than the city-by-city approach in Ontario.
"Dr. Henry’s done an amazing job, as has all of British Columbians," said Dr. Amy Tan. "What we would like to see is, because the numbers are so low in B.C., we want to keep the numbers down, especially now as you guys are in phase three now and reopening the economy."
Unless numbers spike, Henry isn’t ready to recommend cities mandate masks here, and that will keep Metro Vancouver mayors from following Toronto. But Dhaliwal wouldn’t be surprised if his board looks at a region-wide mask mandate at some point during the pandemic.
"I think what’s happening now in Ontario and Toronto and in other areas, this might be something that comes up," said Dhaliwal. And if it does, the board will look to the provincial health officer.
"One of the principals we used right from day one, on what to do and what not to do, was to support Dr. Henry and her recommendations and not second guess what’s going on and follow that, and it has worked well," he said.