Are more jurisdictions likely to make masks mandatory in the future?
Many seem to be making moves in that direction. For example, health officials in Ontario’s Waterloo region are currently talking to business owners about what they would like to see in a mask or face covering policy.
Mulligan, who sits on the Toronto Board of Health but isn’t part of any group advocating for masks, said she’s been asking about potential mandatory mask policies. So far, she’s been told by officials that the evidence doesn’t yet support broader mask laws.
“I expect that to change,” she said. “Given that we’re seeing so much of the city and the province and the country opening up now, I think that we really have no choice but to step up the wearing of masks … because we do want to reduce the risk.”
She thinks governments should have been discussing mask policies as part of their strategy for reopening the economy. She said they need to figure out what policies on masks and other ways to reduce transmission have the greatest benefits versus risks.
If there is a future wave of COVID-19, she expects governments to rely more broadly on masking because the economic impact of the main strategy so far — lockdowns — is so severe.
In the meantime, she suggests people follow public health recommendations to wear masks voluntarily where physical distancing is difficult.
“We do know about the fact that masks reduce the risk to others,” she said. “And so therefore, we have a social responsibility to wear them when we can.”