Mask issue top of mind

Councillor turns to social media for public input on mandatory mask issue

Disposable face masks. Stock photo / Getty Images

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One Norfolk County councillor has turned to social media to gauge public interest in making face masks mandatory in public spaces.

Amy Martin, who represents the Port Dover area, said she has had a lot of emails and social media messages coming in both for and against the idea of making face masks mandatory.

Martin took to social media on the weekend to ask people for their thoughts on the issue. On her Twitter poll about the subject, 71 per cent of the over 600 respondents said they were for masks, and 29 per cent against.

“There were people commenting from London and Toronto so you can’t really tell the sample size, but I had 639 votes,” said Martin. The Facebook post asking the same question was highly engaged with 276 comments, mostly supportive, said Martin.

“My official position on it is that I would really rather not impose more rules and regulations on the community,” said Martin. “I would like to see the public just being conscious of it and courteous to their neighbours and people who are high risk.”

Martin said she is unsure if mandatory masks will be a reality in Norfolk.

Waterford Coun.  Kim Huffman thinks mandatory masks may be in Norfolk’s future.

“I do think that’s something that we will see, I was looking at bringing forth a motion in terms of making the masks mandatory,” she said. “I was doing research and looking at what our neighbours are doing and realizing that it is something that, especially moving to the next stages, we need to get with it and have a bylaw.”

In neighbouring Brant County Health Unit jurisdiction, acting Medical Officer of Health Elizabeth Urbantke suggested on July 7 that mandatory masks may be on the way for the Brantford/Brant.

A draft bylaw for mandatory masks has been released by the City of Brantford to receive public feedback on the idea. The bylaw will be placed in front of council on July 14.

“When Brant started talking about it I thought our next step moving forward is to look at having masks in public spaces,” said Huffman.

Meanwhile Norfolk residents are being asked to remain vigilant against the spread of COVID-19 as the province continues to open.

“A small number of municipalities have made masks mandatory, and all have acknowledged the challenges inherent in enforcing those bylaws,” Matt Terry, director of corporate communications for Norfolk County, said in an email. “Regardless of there being a formal bylaw.”

As of Monday, there are 16 active cases of the virus in Haldimand and Norfolk. While many areas of the province will be moving to Stage 3 of economic re-opening on Friday, H-N will not.

People are reminded by health officials to continue to wash hands frequently, only have close contact with people in your social bubble, keep two metres away from others, and avoid situations where keeping distance would be difficult. The health unit recommends wearing a mask in situations where social distancing is difficult to help slow the spread of the virus.

The new Brant bylaw, as suggested, would make face coverings in indoor public places mandatory, with some exceptions.

Exceptions would include those for children under the age of two; kids from three to five who can’t be persuaded by a caregiver to wear a mask; anyone who can’t use a mask without assistance; those with medical conditions that inhibit their ability to wear a covering; workers behind physical barriers or in non-public areas; and first-responders acting in the course of their duties.

With files from Susan Gamble

 

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