Fast food restaurants throughout Alberta are coming to the aid of the provincial government by offering to distribute 20 million face masks through their drive-thru locations. Over 600 A&W, McDonald’s and Tim Hortons stores are participating in the scheme designed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout the province.
The initiative provides each Albertan with a pack of four non-medical masks along with instructions for their proper use. The provincial government has stressed that the masks are intended to supplement store-bought or homemade masks and that the masks should complement, not replace, existing prevention measures. Physical distancing, good hand hygiene and staying home when sick are still essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
More than 95 percent of Albertans live within a 10km radius of one of the fast food drive-thrus making them suitable distribution centres for the scheme. No purchase from the restaurants is required to pick up the masks. The province is also working with First Nations communities, Métis settlements and other local agencies to distribute the non-medical masks to those who can’t access a drive-thru location.
The cost of distributing the masks via fast food outlets is $350,000. The masks are non-medical and so are not suitable for healthcare workers in the province, which means personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies for frontline workers are not being impacted.
The guidance provided by the provincial government confirms that wearing a mask in public settings has not been proven to protect the person wearing it. However, they confirm that it can be an additional measure to protect others by preventing respiratory droplets released by the mask wearer from contaminating people, surfaces and/or other objects.
Free masks are to be distributed at fast food restaurant drive-thrus as part of Alberta’s reopening plan.
June 1, 2020