Face Masks, Public Policies and Slowing the Spread of Covid-19: Evidence from Canada

68 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2020 Last revised: 15 Oct 2021

See all articles by Alexander Karaivanov

Alexander Karaivanov

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Shih En Lu

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics

Hitoshi Shigeoka

Simon Fraser University (SFU); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Stephanie Pamplona

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 2020

Abstract

We estimate the impact of mask mandates and other non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) on COVID-19 case growth in Canada, including regulations on businesses and gatherings, school closures, travel and self-isolation, and long-term care homes. We partially account for behavioral responses using Google mobility data. Our identification approach exploits variation in the timing of indoor face mask mandates staggered over two months in the 34 public health regions in Ontario, Canada's most populous province. We find that, in the first few weeks after implementation, mask mandates are associated with a reduction of 25 percent in the weekly number of new COVID-19 cases. Additional analysis with province-level data provides corroborating evidence. Counterfactual policy simulations suggest that mandating indoor masks nationwide in early July could have reduced the weekly number of new cases in Canada by 25 to 40 percent in mid-August, which translates into 700 to 1,100 fewer cases per week.

Suggested Citation

Karaivanov, Alexander and Lu, Shih En and Shigeoka, Hitoshi and Pamplona, Stephanie, Face Masks, Public Policies and Slowing the Spread of Covid-19: Evidence from Canada (October 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3705102

Alexander Karaivanov (Contact Author)

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada

Shih En Lu

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada

Hitoshi Shigeoka

Simon Fraser University (SFU) ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada
(778)782-5348 (Phone)
(778)782-5348 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/hshigeoka/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Stephanie Pamplona

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada

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