Mandatory masks debate brewing at CK council

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / vichie81.

The controversial issue of mandatory cloth masks and face coverings will come before Chatham-Kent council Monday night.

There’s a strong possibility there will be a vote on the issue if the item is taken off the consent agenda and a motion is made to make masks mandatory in indoor public spaces across Chatham-Kent to slow the spread of COVID-19. Chatham-Kent is the only municipality in southern Ontario to not have a mandatory mask policy and many are asking why, considering neighbouring Windsor-Essex has become a coronavirus hotspot.

CK Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said the province has not ordered masks to be mandatory and he doesn’t plan to either because the data on cloth masks is “very murky.”

“The widespread use of this makes people feel better, it’s like chicken soup. They may be good at containing large droplets if people are coughing and sneezing [but] I don’t want people who are coughing and sneezing out in the community anyway,” Colby said. “I want people who have that to stay home and when cloth masks get wet, they themselves can be a source of infection,” he added.

Mayor Darrin Canniff said the issue is very divisive and there has been plenty of discussion about it. However, he doesn’t want to politicize a medical issue and has chosen to back Dr. Colby.

“I’ve talked to several councillors and they’ve never run into an issue that they’ve gotten so many comments on and it’s on both sides saying please put this mask in. People look at the mask as a wonder drug like everyone wears masks and no one will get COVID, versus the flip side. People are very concerned,” said the mayor.

Mayor Canniff expects a healthy and lengthy discussion at the council meeting Monday night regarding mandatory masks.