COVID-19: Doctors say wearing masks in crowded outdoor spaces helps prevent spread of coronavirus

With masks becoming mandatory at many indoors spots in Calgary on Aug 1, some doctors are now saying people should also be wearing them more often outdoors amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“When in CLOSED SPACES, CROWDED SPACES or in CLOSE CONTACT with people outside our social bubble, whether indoors or outdoors, we need an additional layer of protection by wearing a non-medical mask or face covering,” Theresa Tam, Canada’s top doctor, tweeted Wednesday.

The Masks4Canada group, whose leadership includes many doctors, is making similar recommendations.

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“The problem is, on many sidewalks and pathways, you have to pass by a person who may be exercising and breathing heavily and they are not able to prevent those droplets from landing on you,” Masks4Canada co-founder Dr. Christine Gibson said. “So if you’re passing by people in outdoor spaces with less than six feet distance, I would recommend wearing a mask.”

Gibson also said people exercising in crowded outdoor areas should be wearing masks.

“I would recommend if you’re doing some light exercise like a jog or a bike ride in a crowded space, absolutely, you should mask,” Gibson said. “Because when you’re breathing heavier, you’re ending up [potentially] giving [the coronavirus] to people.”

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People with breathing problems like asthma are more vulnerable to COVID-19, and Gibson said those people can help protect themselves by wearing a mask in crowded outdoor places.

“If [medical staff] measure their oxygen level, it doesn’t drop when you’re wearing a mask,” Gibson said. “Your carbon dioxide doesn’t build inside the mask.”

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