COVID-19: National Respiratory Roundtable urges Canadians to ignore dropping of mask mandates by provinces

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      A national health organization is urging the public to ignore provincial easing of mask mandates and to wear N95-rated masks in public indoor spaces.

      The COVID-19 Respiratory Roundtable—a group of lung-health patient organizations and professional medical societies set up to exchange and provide information on pandemic-related strategies—has issued a joint letter pleading with Canadians to "Mask Up for Someone You Love!"

      The April 22 letter says that the group is "concerned about the ongoing risk of COVID-19, particularly in the wake of easing of public health restrictions".

      It goes on to say, "Please keep masking...The COVID-19 Respiratory Roundtable urges [its emphasis] Canadians to continue wearing a mask indoors especially in poorly ventilated areas and when physical distancing may not be possible or proves to be challenging in crowded areas. If wearing a face mask is not possible, we recommend that individuals instead minimize exposure to indoor congregate settings."

      The letter specified N95 masks or equivalents: "Continue to wear a medical mask and upgrade when possible (e.g., N95 or KN95 rated mask which offers the highest filtration levels)."

      The roundtable was set up by the Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS) in 2020 to exchange pandemic information and provide guidance to member organizations and the public. Member groups include the B.C. Lung Foundation, the national branch of BREATHE: the Lung Association, Asthma Canada, the Lung Health Foundation, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada, the Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists, and about a dozen other associated groups.

      The CTS describes itself as a respirology specialty group that comprises "specialists, researchers, educators and healthcare professionals working in respiratory, critical care, and sleep medicine".

      In an April 22 release that linked to the joint letter, Dr. Richard Leigh, a lung specialist and CTS president, emphasized the protection of Canada's vulnerable population. “While we acknowledge that Canadians can make their own choices, we also need to be mindful of how the individual choices we make will affect vulnerable and high-risk groups. Masking indoors is a simple step that will keep our spaces safe for everyone.”

      The roundtable stated that it supported the Smart Masking campaign by, "which promotes keeping our common spaces safe with masks, for those most at risk". presently is running a petition at with a cover letter signed by about 50 doctors and associated healthcare professionals. describes itself as "a grassroots group of healthcare workers, academics, engineers, and other professionals who collaborate to advocate for evidence-based and equitable public health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic".

      On its petition page, the organization urges people to wear masks in the following settings: 

      Medical settings 
      Religious gatherings 
      Transit/Uber/Air travel