As we have moved into Phase 3 of reopening, there are several places where I feel especially safe around town.
My gym, (Clubflex 24 Hour Fitness), my go-to clothing stores (Stylezone Fashions, Pearl’s Value & Vintage and Random) and most of the food trucks and take-out restaurants (Sunny Chibas, Noodle Box, Dairy Queen), the organic market (Kitchen Quickies), and the cafe next to The Squamish Chief (1914).
Of course, these aren’t the only safe places — just where I go most often.
What all these establishments have in common is that the pandemic-related rules are clear, social distancing is enforced, hand sanitizer is plentiful, and at most, masks are worn by staff.
I too am getting into the habit of wearing my cloth mask indoors outside my bubble.
But at some local businesses where staff work shoulder to shoulder for eight hours a day, they don’t wear masks. I would prefer for their sake, and mine and my loved ones, that they did.
Ian Tostenson, president of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, has called for restaurant, bar, pub and coffee shop owners to make it mandatory for staff to wear masks.
He made the comments after a pub and a restaurant in Kelowna closed when an employee at each tested positive for COVID-19.
Interior Health has said more than 70 positive tests were related to exposures in that city.
The BC Centre for Disease Control notes that some people can spread the virus when they have very mild symptoms and may not know they are sick. Thus, it may be too late by the time some know their coworker is sick.
Of course, the Centre also notes that wearing a mask should be combined with other preventative measures such as hand washing and physical distancing.
But it is one thing staff can do to keep themselves, their coworkers and their customers safer.
One worker gets sick and the domino effect could be devastating as it spreads and takes out employee after employee, not to mention the harm to customers and the establishment’s reputation.
Our human instinct seems to be to resist change, even when it serves us to adapt. I recently stumbled on a 1987 news report about the resistance to the then-new seat belt law in Alberta.
“I don’t believe anybody should tell me what the hell I have to do,” said driver Joe Miller in the CBC Edmonton newscast. “I don’t need some sucker to tell me how to drive.”
Miller went on to say he was going to get a doctor’s note to allow him to forgo the seat belt requirement.
Similar sentiments are being heard by those resisting masks.
The thing with COVID-19 is we don’t have time to adjust to the idea.
And while seat belt resisters were playing with their own lives, those resisting masks are playing with the lives of us all.
That isn’t OK.
**Please note, this column has been updated to say Noodle Box, which was the writer's intent. Previously the name was a restaurant not in Squamish.