Asthma reason for Vernon councillor removing mask during meeting

Makes it 'hard to breathe'

A Vernon city councillor says asthma is the reason he didn't fully cover his face during Monday's council meeting.

While all of council wore masks during the meeting, Scott Anderson was seen to wear his below his nose and to lower it below his chin when he spoke.

"I have asthma, and it's very hard to breathe through these things, so occasionally I took it off my nose so I can grab a few breaths," Anderson posted on the Vernon & Area Community Alternative Forum Facebook page, of which he is the administrator.

Anderson claimed others also said it was difficult to hear council members speaking through the masks.

Coun. Kari August Gares came to Anderson's defence, saying: "Councillor Anderson suffers from asthma. Breathing for Scott is impeded more so for him than others who do not suffer with a lung disorder. My own child suffers from asthma, and he, too, finds it difficult to wear his mask for long, extended periods of time."

Anderson has previously raised eyebrows at City Hall with his views on the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, he pushed for the reopening of the economy during the provincial lockdown, saying: "It's not as simple as dollars vs. lives, as a lot of people seem to think it is ... It's people's livelihoods and all of our futures."

On Nov. 12, he wrote on the forum's Facebook page: "I have never said nor will I ever say that people who wear masks are cowardly. I don't like that kind of rhetoric and I find it distasteful and asinine."

However, he went on to say: "Personally, I have some issues with masks and the potential for false confidence and the accidental misuse of masks."

Anderson said he'd rather "just wash my hands a lot and stay a respectful distance away from folks, and if I have to wear one for a few minutes to enter a shop, I'll do it...

"It makes sense to limit the spread of the virus to protect the vulnerable, and if someone believes a mask will help, it's a rational decision to wear one. As a personal choice.

"That all stops when it comes to the imposition of masks by government at any level. Businesses can do what they want with masks to avoid liability – also a rational business decision – but I personally draw the line at state intrusion of this degree and magnitude."

Anderson's modified mask wearing at council sparked further Facebook debate.

"I feel we need people on council who are going to behave as role models for our citizens regardless of what their personal opinions are," wrote Crystal Kassam.

Castanet has attempted to speak with Anderson in person for clarification on his comments.

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