A few hic­cups in first days of free drive-thru mask distri­bu­tion

Al­berta Health check­ing claims peo­ple re­ceiv­ing more than their fair share

Calgary Herald - - CITY+REGION - STEPHANIE BABYCH sbabych@post­media.com Twit­ter: @Baby­ch­stephanie

Al­berta Health is work­ing to ad­dress some bumps in the road with its ini­tia­tive to dis­trib­ute non-med­i­cal masks to Al­ber­tans through restau­rant drive-thrus, af­ter re­ceiv­ing re­ports some guests were handed more than their share of masks.

Un­der the pro­gram that started Mon­day, peo­ple can visit par­tic­i­pat­ing Mcdon­ald’s, Tim Hor­tons and A&W drive-thrus to re­ceive one pack­age of four masks per per­son.

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has al­lot­ted 20 mil­lion non-med­i­cal masks to be given to Al­ber­tans for free, to help pre­vent the spread of COVID-19 as the econ­omy re­opens. Au­thor­i­ties are ask­ing peo­ple to “use the hon­our sys­tem” and take only one pack­age.

It’s en­cour­aged peo­ple to ask for a few more pack­ages to de­liver to their friends and fam­ily who can­not ac­cess the drive-thrus, so a sin­gle per­son can re­ceive up to 10 pack­ages — or 40 masks — dur­ing their visit. How­ever, peo­ple have re­ported that they were handed a bag of 40 masks with­out ask­ing for any or when they re­quested only one or two.

Tom Mcmil­lan, a spokesman for Al­berta Health, said Wed­nes­day that all restau­rant part­ners have been pro­vided with the same distri­bu­tion in­struc­tions and it is hoped those di­rec­tions are fol­lowed.

“If, for ex­am­ple, only two al­lot­ments are re­quested, then only two al­lot­ments should be pro­vided,” Mcmil­lan said in a state­ment, adding that no pur­chase is nec­es­sary when pick­ing up the masks.

“Any time we are made aware of a spe­cific in­ci­dent at a spe­cific lo­ca­tion, we are work­ing quickly with our cor­po­rate part­ners to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion. We know that mis­takes can oc­ca­sion­ally hap­pen as the masks are dis­trib­uted, and we ap­pre­ci­ate Al­ber­tans bring­ing any is­sues to our at­ten­tion.”

Health Min­is­ter Tyler Shan­dro said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Tues­day that the gov­ern­ment trusts Al­ber­tans to be hon­est and fair when ac­cept­ing the masks, which is one rea­son they didn’t im­ple­ment some sort of reg­is­tra­tion for the masks.

“I made it very clear that we have to op­er­ate on the hon­our sys­tem, just like in the same ways when it comes to the pan­demic we’ve been op­er­at­ing on the hon­our sys­tem al­ready. It’s only as an en­tire prov­ince, all of us com­ply­ing with the chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health’s or­ders, that we’ve been suc­cess­ful to date,” said Shan­dro.

Al­berta Health hasn’t yet re­ceived data about the num­ber of masks dis­trib­uted, but they have heard from par­tic­i­pat­ing restau­rants that there has been a steady up­take in peo­ple at their drive-thrus.

When re­quest­ing masks at the Mcdon­ald’s and A&W drive-thrus in the Deer­foot Mead­ows shop­ping area on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, the or­der-dis­play screens took note of the num­ber of mask kits given to keep track of in­ven­tory.

Mcdon­ald’s Canada said in a state­ment the com­pany was made aware of a few oc­ca­sions dur­ing which guests re­ceived more masks than re­quested and per­mit­ted.

“We’re proud to be part of this ef­fort, and we’re learn­ing as we go. We’re fol­low­ing up with the restau­rant teams to make sure the pol­icy and pro­ce­dures are re­viewed and fol­lowed,” said Mcdon­ald’s Canada.

A&W did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment and Tim Hor­tons de­ferred to Al­berta Health’s state­ment.

The non-med­i­cal masks have also been pro­vided to many mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties, Metis set­tle­ments and lo­cal agen­cies, in­clud­ing ru­ral and re­mote com­mu­ni­ties with lim­ited or no ac­cess to drive-thrus. More in­for­ma­tion is avail­able on­line at al­berta.ca/masks.


Free masks from the prov­ince to help in the fight against the coro­n­avirus are handed out at a Mcdon­ald’s drive-thru on Wed­nes­day.

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