Petitions calling on Quebec to reverse mandatory mask rule circulate online
MONTREAL -- There are mixed feelings about governments making it mandatory to wear a mask in closed public spaces amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and in Quebec, some citizens are trying to take matters into their own hands.
Just a day after the Quebec government announced the measure will be in force across the province as of Saturday, petitions opposing the rule have begun to circulate online. One of them – that has amassed nearly 40,000 of its desired 50,000 signatures – is calling on the government to reverse the rule altogether.
The description says it expects the government to provide Quebecers with scientific evidence that masks are useful not just in general, but for COVID-19 specifically “before adopting such a measure that violates our rights and freedoms.”
It also cites a "low" global mortality rate associated to COVID-19 and the fact that most cases in Quebec occurred in long-term care homes as reasons why the rule is “unnecessary.”
As of Tuesday, 5,633 people have died of COVID-19 in Quebec and confirmed cases in the province reached 56,730.
Wearing a mask shields particles from a person’s respiratory system, doctors say, which limits the spread of the virus to others. Popular TV personality Bill Nye the Science Guy took to social media to demonstrate this visually just last week.
“It’s a question of respect, a mask is a lot more to protect others than to protect ourselves," Premier Francois Legault said when he first announced masks would be mandatory on public transit, before updating the government’s stance two weeks later to include all closed public spaces. "Let's be smarter than the virus."
Legault specified he was implementing the rule as a result of businesses reopening in the province.
“Now I think that we are at a new stage," he said.
Dozens of COVID-19 cases have been reported since the province allowed bars to reopen, causing several businesses to close so their employees can get tested for the virus.
The opposition to the rule stretches beyond just Quebec, onto the rest of Canada as well as across the border in the United States. According to a new survey by the Association for Canadian studies, Americans are more likely to think mandatory mask-wearing is an infringement on personal rights – but they’re also more likely to agree with the measure.
Specifically, 41 per cent of Americans surveyed believe the rule is a rights infringement, compared to just 27 per cent of Canadians, but 56.1 per cent of Americans think the measure is necessary, while only 34.9 per cent of Canadians agree.
In Montreal, more than eight out of 10 people think the measure should be mandatory, compared to 6.4 out of 10 in the rest of the province.