New Brunswick

Mandatory masks: New Brunswick's first day of new rule

People in Fredericton adjust to mandatory masks on the first day of the new regulation in the province.

Businesses in downtown Fredericton already seeing a difference

Matt Savage is the owner of Savage's Bicycle Center in Fredericton. He said the majority of his customers already wore masks. (Gary Moore/CBC)

It was a little harder to recognize friendly faces around offices, shops, and restaurants Friday as New Brunswick's mandatory mask regulation took effect.

People are now required to wear a mask in most indoor public places, regardless of whether physical distancing can be maintained.

For some it's a continuation of what they've been doing already, while others will have to adjust to the new mandate. 

Matt Savage, the owner of Savage's Bicycle Center, said the store never enforced masks before now, unless physical distancing wasn't possible. 

Savage said most of his customers were already wearing masks anyway.

"I would say 80 per cent of our customers coming in were wearing masks," he said, adding the store has been, and will continue, handing out disposable masks for customers entering the building.

A mask sign on the door going into Savage's Bicycle Center in Fredericton. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Savage doesn't expect to have any issues enforcing the rule now that it's mandatory.

"If this is the difference between me being able to open our doors and the coffee shops being able to open — it's just such an easy, easy thing to do."

"We will enforce it at the door — it's the law, we're going to do it, and we're going to do our part."

Savage is also the chair of Downtown Fredericton Inc., a local business improvement organization for the downtown area.

He said the mandatory mask regulation is probably the easiest thing to do that has been imposed on businesses since the start of the pandemic. 

"We want to do what we have to do to keep our doors open. Nobody wants to go back to that point where we were forced to close."

Outside Savage's Bicycle Center, more people seemed to be walking around downtown wearing masks than was the case before the regulation came into effect.

That's something Sarah McAdam, co-ordinator of the Cultural Market, noticed too. 

"I see so many people going by now that have masks on, whereas yesterday, literally yesterday, they didn't," McAdam said. 

Sarah McAdam, the co-ordinator of the Cultural Market in Fredericton, noticed more people wearing masks walking downtown Friday. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Customers going into the Cultural Market, which offers international foods and local products, are required to wear a mask while ordering food and walking around the building. 

Once seated at a table, people can remove their masks. 

McAdam said with the new mandate everyone knows what's expected of them now. 

"I get a sense of relief knowing that people feel safer, more comfortable and they feel that they know better what to do," she said.

Yvonne Anisimowicz is a customer at The Cultural Market. She said she's been wearing a mask throughout the pandemic, and is glad it's now mandatory.

"It's about time, I think it should have been done from the start — I understand why it wasn't, but it's definitely time," she said. 

Anisimowicz said wearing a mask is a minor inconvenience that could play a major role in preventing spreading the coronavirus.

"I follow the science, I understand that this is the best way that we can do our part to help control the spread of COVID-19 and to avoid having another outbreak in the province."

Premier Blaine Higgs said during a news conference Friday that officers will be visiting businesses throughout the province to check on their operational plans. 

Only children under age two and people with a valid medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask are exempt.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Moore

CBC News

Gary Moore is a video journalist based in Fredericton.

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