New Brunswick

Masks now optional at New Brunswick Legislature

A committee of MLAs voted Friday to end the mandatory mask rules at the New Brunswick Legislature.

Committee of MLAs votes to end mandatory masking that remained in place after provincial rules lifted in March

MLAs can decide for themselves if they want to wear a mask when the legislature resumes next week. (Marco LeBlanc/Submitted)

Masks are coming off at the New Brunswick Legislature.

A committee of MLAs voted Friday to end the mandatory mask rules that had remained in place in the building since the end of provincewide Public Health mask mandates in March.

"While still highly recommended, masks are now optional," clerk Shayne Davies said in an email to MLAs and staff ahead of next Tuesday's resumption of regular daily sittings.

The continued mask requirement had been denounced as hypocritical by then-People's Alliance leader Kris Austin.

"Everybody else, private and public sector, are getting back to some sense of normal and here we are as elected officials doing the opposite," Austin said in March.

The mask rule applied to MLAs on the floor of the legislature.

It meant that the building's public galleries upstairs remained closed to visitors so that MLAs opting to go unmasked could sit there, distanced from their colleagues.

But with the end of the mask requirement, all MLAs will be required to be at their regular desks on the floor of the chamber.

That in turn will allow the upstairs galleries to open to the public again for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

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