Emmanuella Lambropoulos

Jon Gurman on his M4SK Army jeep with MP Emmanuella Lambropoulos.

As we continue to navigate through this COVID-19 pandemic crisis, are enough people taking seriously the law requiring that people aged 12 and over wear masks or face coverings in enclosed or partially enclosed public places?

I am not so sure.

The law was a long time in coming. Those with a medical condition that precludes them from wearing one are exempted.

I have several washable masks and the one-time use surgical versions. There are extras in my car. Whenever I go for a walk I have one either on my face or in my pocket. At night I take whichever reusable ones I wore and I either throw them in the wash or I hand wash them in the sink. This is a must.

Too many people are merely going through the motions. Wearing a mask that does not cover both your nose and mouth is useless. If you wear a surgical mask, throw it out when you are through. It is not meant for use more than once. Please, do not wear the mask around your neck as a resting spot.

The mask should cover your chin if possible and not be too loose, especially on the sides. You don't want big gaps on the sides of your mask. You want it to be fitted,  but still make sure that you can breathe.

Don't touch the outside of the mask. Say the mask does its job and stops the virus from getting into your mouth or nose, but the virus lands on the outside of your mask. If a person touches the outside of the mask, the virus could then be on his/her hand and passed onto whatever else is touched, doctors said. Don't fiddle with the mask. When you're taking the mask off or putting it on, use the side straps. Experts say that one of the worst things you could do is touch the outside of the mask, then touch the inside of the mask and put it back on. Then you're possibly breathing in that virus."

The anti-mask movement exists out there and I for one do not understand it. Of course it does not help when the man who is making a mockery of the United States Presidency rarely puts one on. I am going back to my office next week for the first time since I began working from home in March. Masks are thankfully mandatory  inside our building. I will be wearing a face shield as well, just as I did when I went for a blood test.

When COVID-19 first put it into partial lockdown back in March, businessman Jon Gurman was among the first to have stock available. He did so via H4X ( pronounced “HACKS), a leading Montreal-based street wear and high-quality performance apparel brand for esports athletes and enthusiasts across the globe through its M4SK Army (pronounced Mask Army) platform. While many manufacturers of masks came forward in large numbers in recent months, Gurman continues to step forward by producing washable and reusable face masks made in Canada. His company’s goal remains to hand out one million masks worldwide.

The M4SK Army, patrolling the city of Montreal in its two army jeeps, have been distributing masks to front-line workers from the very start: hospital and CHSLD staff, bus and taxi drivers and deliverymen. More than 150,000 masks have been distributed for free thus far, Gurman said he created the M4SK Army brand to respond to the health-care crisis. The company sold masks to Coca-Cola and Burger King in the U.S. and the masks were custom made to match the uniforms of their employees. In Montreal, Franklin Empire purchased masks from Gurman’s company. They also sell at Jean Coutu, Giant Tiger, Walmart and Ardene, among other retailers.

The M4SK Army consumer products are intended to be fashion accessories and conversation pieces as well as protective gear. They are adorned with zebra and leopard prints, or logos with messages like “Canada Strong,” and “If you are reading this, you are too close.”

“Masks are a booming business for us right now,” Gurman said. “I think when I started doing masks, I was one of the first ones to make cloth, washable masks in North America, and if we hadn’t started so early, I’m not sure we would be doing this now.”

With masks now mandatory in Quebec and most other Canadian and American provinces and states, Gurman considers his mission more important than ever. The company has sold roughly three million masks at this point. They also have a line for children and because of the fun designs it will make for a more of an incentive to want to wear them.

Last week St. Laurent Liberal MP Emmanuella Lambropoulos dropped by Gurman’s headquarters on Gince Street in her riding. The former school teacher was very impressed with what she saw. “I really take my hat off to him,” she said.

Emmanuella is doing her best to spread the message about the importance of wearing masks. “We all saw the effects of what a lockdown was like on society,” she says. ““Masks are the only way to stay away from that and to keep the economy going. At the beginning Quebec and Canada did not have enough masks."

Listen to my podcast interview with Emmanuella here.  

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