Island residents, businesses react to dropping of mandatory masks indoors
'I think it’s an awesome, awesome decision'
Some Prince Edward Island residents say they're excited that masks are no longer required in most indoor spaces, while others are still hesitant to completely ditch their face coverings.
Premier Dennis King made the announcement on Friday during a COVID-19 briefing, saying the decline in case numbers and increasing immunization rates contributed to the province's decision.
"I think it's an awesome, awesome decision," said Island resident Elaine Ross about the dropping of mask requirements indoors.
"I think the whole province should get together and do what they do at Christmas. They go and dispose of the Christmas trees in one big pile and have a big burning," said Ross. "Celebrate it!"
Mask requirements on the Island have been in place since November. This latest change comes after an easing of requirements last week, when people were allowed to take off their masks while seated at concerts and church services.
At the briefing, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said people should still wear masks if they aren't fully vaccinated and in certain situations, such as being in crowded spaces.
'Still a little apprehensive'
Not all Islanders are ready to take off their masks indoors yet.
"I have a health condition, so I'm a little extra careful and I'm pretty happy wearing my mask," said Christine Beck. "I think it's up to the person."
According to the provincial government's website, businesses and organizations are allowed to follow their own mask policies that may be stricter than the province's.
"I'm excited and still a little apprehensive," said Courtney Van Horne, owner of Whisk and Sugar Bakery in Charlottetown.
"The masks [have] been that added protection that has made me feel comfortable over the last year," she said.
Van Horne said she'll still wear a mask at work because she handles food, but people are welcome to enter her bakery without a mask on.
'Happy that we're at this point'
Steve Murphy, co-owner of Slaymaker and Nichols in Charlottetown and Blue Mussel Café in North Rustico, said he'll be speaking with other restaurant owners to discuss how they should handle mask requirements going forward in order to keep both patrons and employees safe.
"I don't know exactly how we're going to handle it," he said.
"I'm just happy that we're at this point, we're having this discussion. It's been a long time since we've been able to talk about masks coming off versus masks going on."
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With files from Brian Higgins and Tony Davis