Province teams up with fast food chains to distribute non-medical masks

Daniel Fowler
May 31, 2020

The Alberta government announced on Friday, May 29, that they will be distributing 20 million non-medical masks to Albertans for free at A&W, McDonald's, and Tim Hortons drive-thrus across the province in early June.

"When we were asked by the Alberta government to help distribute masks through our drive-thrus we did not hesitate", said Mike Hancock, chief operating officer of Tim Hortons.

"Using the drive-thrus for distribution also ensures physical distancing can be maintained because people stay in their vehicles when picking up the masks".

Shandro said that starting in early June, people will be able to use drive-thru lanes at McDonald's, A&W and Tim Hortons to pick up single use, three-layer, non-medical masks created to filter germs and pollution particles.

"They're not part of the supply of PPE for our health care workers and first responders".

"The masks are three-layer, non-medical face masks with ear loops meant to filter germs and pollution particles", said Shandro.

Albertans who wish to use non-medical masks are still encouraged to purchase their own supply from local retailers, in addition to using those provided by the government, Shandro said, as the province does not have the ability to give every Albertan their own unlimited supply. "This allotment of four masks should be considered a supplement to store-bought or homemade masks", said Shandro.

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Albertans were receptive to the idea.

"For example, riding transit in the province or shopping ... where it may be hard to maintain two metres between people at all times". "If they're coming for food, they may as well grab a mask".

Tanya Doucette, who operates eight Tim Hortons franchises in central Alberta, said customers were understanding when her staff closed in-store service and moved to drive-thru and delivery service only.

"We won't be asking our team members to police the program".

Shandro said the government will rely on the honour system and dismissed concerns about people taking more than their fair share.

New cases of COVID-19 are continuing to slow in Alberta, which recorded just 13 new infections Saturday.

A total of 50 people are in hospital, four in ICU, and there have been 143 deaths attributed to the virus.

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