'Culture shift' needed to accept wearing masks: Dr. Etches
OTTAWA -- Ottawa’s top doctor suggests a “culture shift” is needed to accept people wearing masks or face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches has been recommending Ottawa residents wear masks to protect themselves from COVID-19 for several weeks.
Now, Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam are recommending Canadians wear non-medical face masks when maintaining a two-metre distance isn’t possible.
During a Town Hall with Ottawa’s Board of Trade on Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Etches suggested a “culture shift” is needed to accept wearing a face mask to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron, Dr. Etches said wearing a mask or face covering is a “new behaviour” Canadians have never been asked to do before.
“It’s a new behaviour that we want to make more normal. So shifting the culture,” said Dr. Etches.
“Typically, previously before if we saw someone wearing a mask we’d wonder ‘oh, are they sick’ and be kind of concerned. I think what we’re looking for now is to recognize that people are wearing masks to protect others.”
Ottawa’s Emergency and Protective Services General Manager Anthony Di Monte told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that OC Transpo and Ottawa Public Health are working together on developing a policy for masks on OC Transpo buses and the O-Train.
Di Monte added he doesn’t think the city wants to explore a bylaw mandating people wear face masks in public places and businesses.
The Chair of the Board of Health, Councillor Keith Egli says Ottawa wants to get “buy-in” from the public on wearing masks, just like how everyone bought in to the need for physical distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“We’ve seen from the actions of our citizens in the past that they get the importance of physical distancing, and I’m confident they’ll get the importance of wearing a mask when that’s impossible.”