Coronavirus: West Island makes masks available to seniors

As businesses re-open in the Montreal area, health officials insist wearing a mask in public will become more important to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Now, Canada’s chief public health officer, Theresa Tham, is officially recommending people wear non-medical face masks when maintaining a two-metre distance isn’t possible.

“It is an added level of protection even for people who don’t have symptoms to wear a mask to prevent transmission to others,” she told reporters Wednesday.

With that in mind, Montreal’s West Island authorities are trying to make it easier for their residents to get them.

READ MORE: Mask debate: non-medical masks now recommended in fight against COVID-19

“We had a lot of requests [from residents asking] how do we get them?” said Dorval mayor Edgar Rouleau, “because they are hard to get in stores.”

So Dorval city officials decided to give masks to residents.  The municipality got 6,000 disposable ones from the City of Montreal for Dorval city workers.  But Roleau said there were already masks for the employees

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“Yes, we will be using some of the 6,000,” he said, “and we said, ‘look, why not give the opportunity to the people of 70 [years of age] and older, and people who are vulnerable to also get masks.”

Residents are limited to four.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Public advised to wear masks in hard-hit Laval

In Dollard-des-Ormeaux, authorities are also giving away the same kind of masks to seniors and people of any age with pre-existing conditions.

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According to Mayor Alex Bottausci, they, too, got 6,000 masks from the city of Montreal which they will use for employees.  But they got more masks through various private donations.

“We were lucky enough to come across a donation of 3,000 and I’m looking at securing another 3 to 5,000,” he told Global News.

Individuals in his city will get up to five and he is considering a more widespread distribution of masks.

“We have it in mind,” he said.  “The question becomes cost and also is it our domain?”

Quebec’s deputy premier, Geneviève Guilbault, said her government plans to give a million masks to Montreal and that they are open to giving more where needed.

“We would have to look at how the situation evolves if there are some needs elsewhere, and we can address that question when it comes,” she said.

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Other West Island municipalities like Point Claire say they are also considering giving masks to residents.  Officials there and in other areas say they hope more people embrace wearing the mask to protect themselves and others.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.