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TORONTO – Experts question the use of a core element of Canada’s plan to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic – plexiglass in businesses – and call it ‘counterproductive’ in most contexts .

Marianne Levitsky, an industrial hygienist at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Health, told CTV News Channel on Thursday that experts now believe good ventilation is essential to keep everyone safe inside, and some plexiglass installations can hinder it.

“The problem with plexiglass barriers everywhere is that they can obstruct the flow of air,” she said. “Where it can be helpful is where there is potential for close contact, such as in a store between cashier and customer.”

Levitsky said ventilation experts have been saying this for some time, but researchers are increasingly aware of the spread of COVID-19 through aerosols, rather than droplets.

“There is a wider recognition of the aerosolized nature of COVID-19 and the recognition that we really need very good ventilation to control this,” she said.

Most researchers agree that plexiglass installations are still useful in cases where a customer and employee are close to each other, such as a take-out counter or a grocery store line, but the dividers between the tables are the problem.

“The problem is office spaces when you start to fragment, or in restaurants between tables,” said Dr. Peter Juni, epidemiologist at the University of Toronto and member of the COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Table. from Ontario. “What’s going on there is that it can hinder the airflow and it can actually be counterproductive because the most important part here is… the ventilation.”

This could be bad news for restaurants and businesses that have already struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic and have installed plexiglass dividers in order to reopen.

In November 2020, CTVNews.ca reported that the federal government had already spent $ 2,778,152.26 to install plexiglass and similar products in their offices and other facilities across the country.

“I understand it’s frustrating that we’ve raised these issues again, the point is, if you have a cashier situation at a fast food restaurant, cafe [or] in a supermarket, everything is fine, ”Juni said.

A spokesperson for Restaurants Canada was not immediately available to comment on the expert opinion.

However, not everyone agrees that plexiglass barriers need to go.

Meanwhile, Dr Bonnie Henry, a BC provincial health worker, told reporters on Tuesday that appropriately placed barriers help prevent droplets from coming back and coming back to fourth.

“In and of themselves, they are not everything, but they absolutely make a difference,” she said.

Dr Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist, also said decisions on these issues should be made in consultation with experts in several fields.

“I would give in to my fellow engineers on this one,” he said.

“If someone coughs or sneezes if you’re a bank employee or a grocery store employee, you definitely want to have some protection against that and that would come from the masking and maybe plexiglass, but of course you don’t. can’t ignore the ventilation. “

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