Wearing a mask and following physical distancing measures are still encouraged for those who are fully vaccinated. Officials of WHO have stated that masks should still be used, even by those who have received both doses of the vaccine.
The Continuation of Public Health Measures
Dr. Mariangela Simao, World Health Organization assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products has stated that people cannot feel safe just because they have received two doses of the vaccine. Simao has also stated that public health measures continue to be "extremely important" as countries grapple with outbreaks of the COVID-19 Delta variant. "Vaccines alone won't stop community transmission. People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene ... the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you're vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing."
The team lead at health and safety consultancy Peninsula Canada, Catherine Bergeron, also reminds employers that the federal government has stated that the vaccination will not completely eliminate COVID-19. With this in mind, Bergeron has confirmed that public health measures such as maintaining physical distance and wearing a mask will still need to be followed by our communities.
Updated guidance around private gatherings has been released by The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). These guidelines include advice for both indoor and outdoor gatherings and are top of the second-dose vaccine campaign.
The guidelines advise that at a large or crowded indoor or outdoor event, such as a concert, sports event or house party, even fully vaccinated people should consider wearing a mask.
When visiting gyms and places of worship, those who are not fully vaccinated should wear a mask and those who have had both of their shots should still consider wearing a mask if they are at a higher risk of infection. Doors and windows should be opened whenever possible in these centres.
Masks in the Workplace
Mandatory workplace masks may also be an important measure to continue to implement, as it serves a purpose not only in a physical sense (by providing protection) but also in a psychological one. When visitors such as clients and potential customers arrive at the establishment to see unmasked staff, they may be discouraged from entering the workplace. These optics could potentially hurt the chance of acquiring sales from foot traffic or an establishment's already existing client base. Some unvaccinated employees may also experience anxiety if vaccinated co-workers stop wearing masks, which could affect a team’s internal dynamics and effectiveness.
Catherine Bergeron from Peninsula Canada has stated, “Ensuring that employees continue to wear masks even if they are vaccinated will help curb the spread of COVID-19."
Public health measures such as business closures and assigned capacities for already-opened businesses are gradually being lifted as more and more people receive their first dose of the vaccine. That being said, Canada's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Theresa Tam has stated that vaccines are not the end of masks, physical distancing and travel restrictions, as vigilance is required to overcome this ever-evolving virus.
Colin Furness, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the University of Toronto, echoes the thoughts of Tam, stating that now is the time for Canadians to be vigilant. "We don’t know much about the Delta variant yet because it’s so new, but in theory, you can be double vaccinated, you can get infected, you can be subclinical and you can pass it on to others.”
Furness adds that people should not be "sharing air" indoors without masks unless the individuals present are trusted and have received both of their doses.
Whether you're re-entering the workplace, running a business, attending a social event or simply navigating errands, it's important to keep your protection and the protection of those around you top-of-mind. Choosing a reliable, trusted supplier for all of your PPE needs takes the stress out of finding the protection that's right for you! Remember, it's always the right decision to be respectful of your colleagues, neighbours and local business owners.