Province under fire as fast-food 'partners' quickly unload COVID-19 masks without asking
20 million masks are to be given out, in principle, on request
The provincial government is facing criticism for its fast-food distribution method of getting COVID-19 masks in the hands of Albertans, after some people got way more than they asked for.
A&W, Tim Hortons and McDonald's restaurants with drive-thrus — about 600 in Alberta — began giving out 20 million non-medical, single-use masks on Monday.
They come in packs of four, handed out, in principle, on request, but people can get up to 10 packs per person to give out to family and friends, based on an honour system.
A Calgary Twitter user says she asked for one pack but got 10 packages without asking.
"The McDonald's I went to in #yyc is giving out a bag full of 10 packs of 4 masks and closing window before I could even correct them," @JulieEY wrote in a tweet.
"I will do my best to distribute them to friends and family that have not received them."
Can confirm <a href="https://twitter.com/YourAlberta?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@YourAlberta</a> drive-thru masks are a disaster. The McDonald’s I went to in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/yyc?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#yyc</a> is giving out a bag FULL of 10 packs of 4 masks and closing window before I could even correct them.<br>I will do my best to distribute them to friends and family that have not received them. <a href="https://t.co/t55kNiRw5d">pic.twitter.com/t55kNiRw5d</a>—@JulieEY
'Tossing as many masks as possible'
Another Twitter user in Edmonton experienced the same thing at Tim Hortons.
"I'm not exaggerating at all. They are literally tossing as many masks as possible to customers to get rid of them ASAP," user Mil Máscaras @QuicheSucks tweeted.
"I was confused at first, I though they gave me a few individually wrapped ones. No. Ten packages of four I got with one coffee."
I'm not exaggerating at all. They are literally tossing as many masks as possible to customers to get rid of them ASAP. I was confused at first, I though they gave me a few individually wrapped ones. No. 10 packages of 4 I got with 1 coffee. <a href="https://t.co/0UAjR4GoLO">https://t.co/0UAjR4GoLO</a> <a href="https://t.co/y1wvu9RoHR">pic.twitter.com/y1wvu9RoHR</a>—@QuicheSucks
By request only, says A&W
An Edmonton A&W spokesperson says this is not how the program is supposed to work.
Tina Gibson says A&W alone gave out more than 150,000 masks on Day 1 of the program, but that staff are supposed to ask customers how many they want.
"They should not be given out if people are not actually wanting them," Gibson told Edmonton AM on Wednesday.
Government to address situation
Alberta Health says getting rid of masks as quickly as possible is against its instructions to the restaurants.
"If we are made aware of a specific incident at a specific location, we work quickly with our corporate partners to address the situation," spokesperson Tom McMillan said in a statement to CBC News.
"We are asking Albertans to be honest and respect the four masks per individual allotment to ensure there is enough for everyone."
With files from Edmonton AM