Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. to lift mandatory mask rules on Tuesday, says premier

Newfoundland and Labrador will lift its mask mandate at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Andrew Furey announced at Friday's COVID-19 briefing.

The province has 7 active cases of COVID-19 as of Friday

Premier Andrew Furey says Newfoundland and Labrador will drop its mask mandate on Tuesday. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Newfoundland and Labrador will lift its mask mandate at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Premier Andrew Furey announced at Friday's COVID-19 briefing.

Starting Tuesday, nearly a year after the provincial government introduced the public health rule, people will no longer have to wear a mask indoors in many public spaces.

"This is a big day for Newfoundland and Labrador, and I know it comes with some anxieties and some fears," Furey said Friday.

"But the epidemiology supports it, the rates of vaccines support it, and it is the right move for the right time."

The province reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, both in the Eastern Health region and related to international travel. 

Both people, a man and a woman, are over 70 years old.

The province also reported one recovery in the Eastern Health region, and now has seven active cases, including two crew members who were aboard ships anchored off Newfoundland and remain in hospital.

The province also reported one new presumptive positive case in the Eastern Health region. Once presumptive positive cases are confirmed, they are reported in public updates as new confirmed cases.

Watch the full Aug. 6 update:

Furey encouraged people who feel uncomfortable with the changes to continue wearing masks if they wish. He said the situation and the decisions being made are fluid. If coronavirus variants change, he said, the province will change with them. 

"That could include measures like reintroducing mandatory masks in indoor environments," he said.

Indoor capacity increase

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said other public health restrictions will also be lifted Tuesday. 

Up to 500 people will be permitted at indoor gatherings, with physical distancing.

Fitzgerald said masks will not be required in most indoor public spaces, including restaurants, stores, gyms, personal service businesses and performance venues. 

However, Fitzgerald said, masks will still be mandatory inside congregate living facilities for seniors and within regional health authority facilities. 

"Some businesses may also choose to maintain the mask requirement based on their own COVID policies, and while not required in most public indoor spaces, masking is still strongly recommended especially when you are not always able to physically distance from others and you don't know their vaccination status," she said.

"Please be kind and do not judge somebody who continues to wear a mask to protect themselves and others."

Fitzgerald told reporters other jurisdictions that have removed their mask mandates still have significant numbers of people reporting they still regularly wear masks, and she anticipates people in N.L. will continue to wear masks in public spaces.

Potential fourth wave

It's been just over a month since N.L. lifted its travel restrictions to allow non-essential visitors into the province.

Fitzgerald said the province is continuing to see sustained low case counts, with only eight new cases since the reopening of the border.

That does not include the cases on the vessels that were rerouted to N.L. due to sickness aboard, Fitzgerald said. 

While the province is seeing low numbers in new cases, other Canadian provinces are seeing a spike.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald is encouraging people to continue wearing masks in indoor public spaces, even as N.L. plans to remove the legal requirement. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Fitzgerald said the country saw 5,703 new cases between July 27 and Aug. 2, which is a 60 per cent increase from the previous week. 

"All indications are that a fourth wave will start in Canada. However, how this unfolds in the weeks and months ahead depends largely on vaccination rates," she said.

Fitzgerald said the delta variant is a force in the fourth wave and is becoming the dominant circulating strain. She said the variant accounts for 76 per cent of all samples being tested in the country, and accounts for 99 per cent of new cases in the U.K. and 82 per cent in the U.S.

As of Thursday, the province had fully vaccinated 60 per cent of its eligible population, while 84 per cent have received at least one dose.

Fitzgerald said she hopes the two-dose number will reach what is currently the single dose percentage, adding it would be ideal if that number was a little higher at 85 to 88 per cent. 

"We need to get there as quickly as we can," she said. 

"Modelling suggests that every percentage increase in the proportion of people fully vaccinated can have an impact on the size of a fourth wave and reduce the risk of overwhelming our health-care system."

Furey said Education Minister Tom Osborne, along with Fitzgerald, will announce a return to school plan "shortly."

Fitzgerald said the goal is get kids back to school to as normal an environment as possible, and with high vaccination rates it should be attainable. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


Mike Moore


Mike Moore is a journalist who works with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's. He can be reached by email at


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?