British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. Dr. Henry frequently reminds people that there are those people who cannot wear a mask for legitimate reasons and they don’t have to. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. Dr. Henry frequently reminds people that there are those people who cannot wear a mask for legitimate reasons and they don’t have to. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Island woman reminds community that not everyone can wear a mask

People enforcing mask rules frequently ignore that possibility

Nearly every message about wearing masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 includes a passage that a lot of people seem to be missing.

And a Campbell River woman says she and others like her are being victimized by people who have missed that message.

Carol De’Ath, 80, suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and she cannot wear a mask. But that should be okay because as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and others frequently say when giving their COVID-19 updates, those who are unable to wear a mask for a variety of reasons, don’t have to. And should be treated with respect and consideration.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows this or they ignore it. De’Ath is frequently confronted as she enters local businesses and told – not very pleasantly – that she has to wear a mask.

RELATED: New restrictions unmasking Vancouver Island’s belligerent

RELATED: Life unmasked: woman who can’t wear a mask feels unfairly judged

“She got very belligerent about it,” De’Ath said about an incident in a Comox Valley retail outlet.

De’Ath said during that incident she tried to explain about her condition and that she has a letter from her doctor confirming her condition. That letter was acquired early on in the pandemic but large outlet employees frequently fail to take into consideration the possibility of a condition prohibiting the use of masks.

The BC Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 web page about masks says specifically: “People who cannot wear a mask or who cannot put on or remove a mask on their own are exempt. Some people cannot wear a mask for psychological, behavioural or health conditions. Be respectful of people who can’t wear a mask.”

De’Ath says there are many store employees who do understand and let her in without any problem. And there have been times when an incident is brought up to store management, the managers have been understanding and offered to remind their staff to keep those who can’t wear a mask in mind.

“Some people have been good,” De’Ath said, but other people “have been jerks.”

De’Ath is a widow and has to do her own shopping but, “I am afraid to go out,” she said.

Her sister suggested she get her doctor’s letter laminated and hung around her neck whenever she goes anywhere.

De’Ath agrees that everybody who can wear a mask should wear one. She would wear one if she could.

De’Ath said her “breathing is difficult as it is.”

“My lungs just wheeze and whistle,” she said. Talking to her on the phone, you can hear in her voice that breathing is laboured.

De’Ath was prompted to speak out about her situation after reading about the people who make a big scene about having to wear a mask when told to by business staff. Many unpleasant encounters have involved people who feel the pandemic is a hoax and being required to wear a mask is an infringement on a person’s rights. Police have been called in some situations.

But De’Ath wants people to keep in mind that there is another side to this issue.

“I know there are people being belligerent and I think that is very rude and should not be done,” De’Ath said.

Business owners and employees are under pressure themselves having to enforce mask rules and that is never a pleasant situation, especially when you can trigger a vehement refusal.

But you also don’t have to be rude to the people who have a good reason to not wear a mask.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits Nanoose Bay property

Experts say interesting look may simply be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

A Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation guardian took this photo of dozens of vehicles parked along a forest service road in the Kennedy watershed. (Submitted photo)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District looks at enforcement of illegal camping

ACRD currently does not have an existing bylaw service to tackle the issue

West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni received some good news about an expansion to its emergency department on Jan. 15, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
B.C. health ministry commits $6.25M to hospital expansion in Port Alberni

Plans for larger emergency department have been on hold since 2015

Smaller egg farmers find themselves in a David and Goliath situation when it comes to major producers and chain-grocery store shelf space. (Citizen file)
Vancouver Island egg producer cries foul over ‘Island’ label

Egg farmer frustrated with regulations allowing mainland-laid eggs to be labelled ‘Island’

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker in Nanaimo fails at fraud attempt, slams door on business owner’s foot

VIDEO: Suspect causes pain and damage in incident downtown Friday morning

Johnathan Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to eight charges including sex-related offences against children and accessing, possessing and making or publishing child pornography. (Courtesy of Saanich Police)
Sentencing date moved for Saanich nanny guilty of child porn charges

Johnathon Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to eight sex offences against children

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Dr. Shannon Waters, the medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, is reminding people to stay the course with COVID-19 measures. (File photo)
‘Stay the course’ with COVID measures, Island Health reminds

Limit social activity, wash hands, wear a mask, and isolate if you feel sick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Most Read