The Gleaner
Opinions

There is no shame in wearing a mask

Quebec’s College of Physicians issued a statement over the weekend recommending masks be worn once again in public spaces. This should be taken as a sure sign our doctors are highly concerned over the triple threat of a strong flu season, decreasing overall immunity to COVID-19 as individuals hesitate over boosters, and a jump in social interaction with the start of the holiday season.

Hospitals are overwhelmed, and pediatric emergency departments are overflowing with patients suffering from respiratory illnesses. There are some mean bugs in circulation right now, including ever-evolving variants of COVID-19.

This act by the College of Physicians seems to fly in the face of Quebec’s recent recommendation to completely abandon the mandatory five-day isolation period for those who test positive for COVID-19. Quebec public health director Dr. Luc Boileau says the province will now be relying on citizens to use “common sense” when it comes to avoiding respiratory illnesses.

That’s putting a lot of faith in Quebecers’ good judgement. It is true that COVID-19 hospitalizations have been declining, and recent statistics suggest up to 85 per cent of the population has been infected at least once by the virus; but are we not sending the wrong message? What happened to the idea of protecting ourselves, and especially those around us?

This all comes at the start of the holiday season, where each weekend from here to Christmas will feature at least one local market, craft sale, or activity. These are festive and fun ways to support local producers, artisans, community groups, and area boutiques. They are also a chance to help fend off another threatening trifecta in the form of the labour shortage, inflation, and looming recession.

Shopping locally will keep our Valley economy afloat in the rough waters ahead, but it is important we rely on our “common sense” – check for symptoms before going out, and avoid events when we are not well.

The warm weather of the past few weeks mixed with the sudden return to seasonal temperatures and forecast snow will no doubt result in increased sniffling. There is no shame in wearing a mask, and it is time to consider pulling them out of storage. We want to be spreading holiday cheer and nothing more at this time of year.
Sarah Rennie

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