It might be time to dig your masks out of storage.
As the winter chill brought Montreal's first snowfall of the season, Quebec's government officials have clarified the role of masking in preventing respiratory illness during the colder months. Though masking is not mandatory outside of hospitals, it has been formally recommended in public places as of a November 16 press conference.
Do you still need a mask in Quebec?
They're not required in most spaces. That said, the government's official recommendations are to wear a mask in busy areas, except schools, according to a recent press release. It's also recommended to wear a mask when you're experiencing respiratory symptoms, nasal congestion and/or a sore throat. If you're sick with a fever, the government suggests you stay home.
Do you need a mask on public transit in Montreal?
Public transit qualifies as a busy area, so masks are formally recommended, but there is no mandate to be masked on the STM. "As recommended by Public Health, wearing a mask in public places and in the presence of vulnerable people is a simple and essential gesture that will reduce transmission and support our efforts," Christian Dubé, Minister of Health, said at the November 16 press conference.
Where does the Quebec government recommend masks?
Public health officials recommend masking up in busy public areas and/or areas where more vulnerable people are. It's nearly impossible to guess another person's health status, so these recommendations can be understood as applying to most, if not all, public areas, including grocery stores and other essential services. "Wearing a mask in these [busy public] places will limit the spread of disease to vulnerable people," the press release adds.
Why are masks recommended in Quebec?
There's currently a "triple threat" of viruses in the province, so masking isn't just to protect against COVID-19, but also against the flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). The pressure on hospitals has become extreme since the onset of the pandemic, leading the government to instate strategies to reduce the load on emergency rooms across Quebec. "Many efforts are being made to reduce the pressure in emergency rooms, but the increased transmission of several viruses complicates the situation," said Minister Dubé. "We need everyone to work together to limit the risk of spread."
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