Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia taking honour-system approach to mandatory mask policy

Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey hopes people will follow public health orders requiring wearing masks in indoor public spaces, but he said the province doesn't plan to enforce the rules.

Businesses prepare with more signs and, in some cases, complimentary masks

Signs on the doors to get into Halifax Shopping Centre advise customers to wear a face covering. The signs were placed there ahead of Nova Scotia's mandatory mask rule in public spaces that came into effect on Friday. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Customers approaching the entrances to the Halifax Shopping Centre will see the big blue signs on the doors right away: "Wear a face covering to cover your mouth and nose prior to entering." And above the text, a graphic of a face mask.

Welcome to the new normal.

This is just one way businesses in Nova Scotia are letting customers know that, as of Friday, masks are mandatory in indoor public spaces in the province.

The mandatory mask order was put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. As of Thursday, there were no active cases left in the province and Nova Scotia had gone more than two weeks without any new cases.

But as restrictions around travel start to loosen, the mask policy is one way officials hope to lessen the impact of an anticipated second wave of the illness.

Minister of Health Randy Delorey says Nova Scotia doesn't plan to strong-arm the mandatory mask order. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

What's still unclear is how the province will enforce the mask rule.

Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey told reporters on Thursday the province doesn't plan to take a "strong-arm approach to enforcement."

Delorey said the directive about wearing masks is part of the public health order. He saidĀ failure to adhere to the order could result in "fines and other provisions," but added there are no plans to enforce it.

While some Nova ScotiansĀ have been wearing masks inside public spaces since the early days of the pandemic, there are still many who don't. Delorey said he thinks that will change on Friday.

"Perhaps we have more faith in the people of Nova Scotia," Delorey told reporters.

Halifax Shopping Centre has all its rules and expectations around masks listed on its website, and includes a list ofĀ stores that are selling masksĀ to customers.

Masks are required throughout the mall, including the food court, except when people are eating or drinking. Halifax Shopping Centre is also discouraging people from approaching others who aren't wearing masks.

"People should not assume that a person is breaking the rules ...Ā there are some situations which prevent individuals the ability to wear a mask," the website states.

Halifax Shopping Centre says plastic face shields are not an alternative to a face mask because it doesn't protect other people if the wearer coughs or sneezes.

Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth, N.S., says it will have aĀ limited number of masks available at each of the mall's entrances for the first few days of the mandatory mask rule.

Businesses not expected to enforce mask policy, says Delorey

"We have put in place comprehensive signage, and our security guards remind our visitors to follow the health and safety measures they will see throughout the property, which includes wearing a face mask or a face covering before entering the premises,"Ā Tamitha Oakley, Mic Mac Mall's general manager, told CBC News in an email.

Oakley said if someone who isn't exempt from wearing a mask or covering refuses to wear one at Mic Mac Mall, "the individual will be required to leave the premises."

But Delorey said he doesn't expect shop or restaurant employees to enforce the mask rule.

"The responsibility is for the customer ... it's our responsibility before we walk into a public space to bring our mask, for us to don that maskĀ to protect others," he said.


Anjuli Patil


Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.

With files from Jean Laroche