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Dr. Loo talks masking. And Karens

'These folks should not be forced to wear a mask, and should not need to provide proof of exemption'
2020-01-15 Jennifer Loo
Dr. Jennifer Loo. David Helwig/SooToday

To the best of our recollection, Dr. Jennifer Loo didn't refer even once Monday night to an annoying Internet sensation named Karen during her presentation to Sault Ste. Marie City Council.

But if you find yourself inclined to throw a hissy fit, or you really, really want to talk to the manager about people not wearing face masks in enclosed public places, we suggest you read this article first.

And if you're someone with a legitimate reason for not wearing a mask, maybe think about printing off some hard copies for the inevitable Karens you're going to encounter in the weeks to come.

As of Friday, July 17, Algoma Public Health (APH) has decreed members of the public wear a non-medical face covering when entering the indoor premises of any businesses, organization or public transit system anywhere in the APH service area.

Dr. Loo, APH's associate medical officer of health, was invited to City Council to discuss the new masking requirements.

And she clearly had the Karens of Algoma in mind when she addressed Mayor Provenzano and his 10 ward virions.

"It's very important to know that some groups cannot wear a mask, and that these groups should not be stigmatized," Loo said.

"In our particular instruction, the wording and language we've chosen is very consistent with what other health units have done."

"So children under two, people with breathing difficulties, communication challenges, all of these folks should not be forced to wear a mask and should not need to provide proof of exemption."

Exceptions to the mandatory masking rule also include children under the age of five who chronologically or developmentally refuse to wear a mask or face covering and can't be persuaded to do so by their caregiver, Loo said.

"So parents, don't freak out if your child is not having it that day. We have included this language because we know this will happen."

Other exceptions will be made for people who can't wear or remove a face mask without assistance.

"We aren't there to make people's lives difficult."

"The idea is to promote masking as much as possible and to make sure that groups are not stigmatized."

"In the workplaces, which already have a lot of preventative measures set up like Plexiglas barriers, employees who are behind a physical barrier do not need to wear a mask," Loo said.

Temporary removal of a face mask can be allowed in circumstances including athletic or fitness activities, water-based activity, consuming food or drink, or any emergency or medical purpose.

Loo said the Algoma mask rules will be loosened before Stage 3 starts to include receiving services such as facials, beard trimming and nail salons.

Loo emphasized that face masks aren't enough to halt the pandemic on their own.

"We still need to physically distance. We still need to avoid close contact with those outside our social circles."

Loo reminded council that even though indoor meetings of up to 50 people will be allowed here starting Friday, the maximum number of family and friends allowed in one's social bubble will still be 10.

City Council approved a resolution supporting the federal government's ongoing closure of the Canada/U.S. border, with a unanimous vote including Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Shoemaker.