No Mask, No Entry; Muskoka gallery owner asks business community to support mandatory masks

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Teresa McLaughlin

We are all in this together, or are we. This is a sentiment I hear on a daily basis echoing across all media platforms, yet I am witnessing the contrary. For the most part people have accepted the social distancing guidelines although we are experiencing breaks in the ranks as time stretches on. We are now expected to open back up and resume life, encompassing the new normal. In these first weeks we will become the proverbial canary as we see if our efforts will stem the transmission or create new outbreaks.

It is clear we must move forward to an open economy but I believe there is a much safer way to navigate. Each business owner has the power to help in this fight and I would suggest it is our responsibility to mitigate against this virus to the best of our ability. The simple act of wearing a face covering has been proven to cut down the spread of airborne inoculum, yet only a percentage of our citizens are using them. The wearing of face coverings only works properly if all parties are participating. There are historical studies taken from the 1918 pandemic to back up this hypothesis as well as real time data coming out of Europe and Asia. You only have to look to the Czech Republic and South Korea to realize that mandatory face coverings have had a substantial decrease in the death toll. Why then are we not adopting this policy?

I asked some local community leaders how they will be handling the reopening to the community during this time and although some were having their staff wear masks they stopped short of requiring customers to wear them. To me this is tantamount to creating a peeing section in a pool. This really is an all or nothing scenario and we cannot be worried about losing a sale over public safety. As we approach 6,000 dead in this country, I have to wonder how many more are we willing to accept? We are in a unique situation in Muskoka. We grow from small towns in the off season to that of a city as our populations swell to 50k. Percentages tell us that within those numbers there will be a certain portion of the population that are asymptomatic. It is for this reason we need to do all that we can to limit the spread. It is essential that construction workers wear steel toed boots on the job for health and safety. You wouldn’t consider spending any length of time outside in Muskoka in -20 weather without gloves or a hat as these things are good health practices. Why then are we resistant to asking our fellow citizens to wear facial protection upon entering a place of business? We have the power to refuse entry unless the public comply. No shoes, no shirt, no mask, no entry. It is as simple as that. The least invasive way combined with hand washing, to keep a population healthy. I’m asking my fellow business owners to adopt this practice for the greater good of the community. Time was lost in not implementing this mandate right at the beginning of the outbreak but we now have the opportunity to actually practice the belief that we are truly all in this together and prevent mortality rates from soaring any higher.

Teresa McLaughlin AuburnGallery of Fine Art.

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