Lobbying unions to make masks mandatory for hospital visitors and transit passengers

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HALIFAX –
As COVID-19 restrictions continue to be lifted in the Maritimes, the two unions in Nova Scotia, calling them on masks to be made mandatory. The union representing health care workers in the province believes the masks should be worn when visiting the hospital, while union transit wants masks for anyone on the bus.

With more visitors about to be admitted to Nova Scotia hospitals next week, the province’s largest union is concerned about workers and patients if the masks are not worn.

“We have people walking around everyday who don’t have COVID symptoms, but maybe have affected others,” said NSGEU president Jason MacLean. “So what we need to do is protect our vulnerable in the hospitals and everyone who comes in wearing masks. ”

The Nova Scotia Health Authority does have certain restrictions for visitors, including mandatory screening and physical removal, but there are no plans to make people mask until this time.

A statement to CTV News reads in part:

“We also know that there are people who are unable to wear masks for a variety of reasons, and we don’t want to discourage the patient’s primary to the visiting support person. ”

But the NSGEU says the decision is to put people at risk.

“We all know that if I wear a mask, there is less of a chance, I will infect you with COVID-19,” MacLean said. “So if we have people who are in an area with vulnerable people, I think it only makes sense to have them wear a mask so as not to infect others if they have COVID-19. ”

The same concern is also raised by the union representing Halifax bus drivers.

Many of our major cities, including Toronto, have already made mandatory face masks for passengers.

“When you see the TTC, the largest public transit agency in Canada operating masks, Hamilton, Transit, Ottawa, (and) Guelph have all mandated masks,” said Ken Wilson, president of Amalgamated Transit Local Union representing Halifax transportation staff. “This is what we have to do to keep people safe. We flattened the curve, but a second wave has come, and we need to educate the public and our riders to wear a mask when using public transportation may be the way to go. ”

The Halifax Transit bus will be able to carry more passengers than on Monday and Wilson says he would like to see them wear masks.

Some passengers agree.

“When you’re on the bus, you’re all breathing the same air, and it’s a little crowded,” said Michael McLeod. I certainly think you should have a mask, it should be mandatory. ”

Wilson says it has been said that the city has been waiting for the public health department, but isn’t sure why.

“I believe transit has the ability to mandate that, themselves, and not wait for public health to get on board,” said Wilson.

McLeod believes it is important to protect pilots who are “exposed to hundreds and hundreds of people these days. ”

Wilson also said in Halifax in common is to work to install Plexiglass shields behind his pilots, which will allow them to return to full operating capacity and also return for tariff collection. He hopes the shields will be in place by the end of July.

“If we get masks on the public to keep them safe, Plexiglas shields for operators to keep them safe, we should be able to get through this with as little impact as possible,” said Wilson .

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