Small businesses on P.E.I. adjust to new mask recommendations 

Many small businesses on Prince Edward Island are now asking employees to wear a mask while at work. Some have had the policy in place for weeks, others are adjusting to the province's strengthened recommendations announced last week.  

Some businesses let the employee choose whether to wear a mask

My Little Stash owner Danielle Woikin says more and more customers are coming in with masks on. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

Many small businesses on Prince Edward Island are now asking employees to wear a mask while at work. Some already had the policy in place, while others are adjusting to the province's strengthened recommendations announced last week. 

Masks are "strongly recommended" when indoors in public spaces, when physical distance cannot be maintained. 

At My Little Stash on the Charlottetown waterfront, owner Danielle Woikin has been serving customers from behind a handmade mask since before the updated recommendations. 

Woikin is encouraging customers to get on board, offering a 10 per cent discount to people coming into the shop wearing a mask.

"I wanted people to say, 'It's OK,' and that you get rewarded," said Woikin. 

"If you keep me safe, I'll give you a little extra discount."

She also sells masks, which she said have become increasingly popular in the last week. 

Preparing for a shortage

Employees at Buns & Things Bakery in Charlottetown have the choice, but most choose not to wear a mask.

Owner Bill DeBlois told CBC he suspects masks will become mandatory in public spaces soon. And he's already seeking a supplier for them. 

Buns & Things Bakery has masks available for employees, but it remains the employees' choice to wear them. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

"It's going to be hard to find and hard to come by," said DeBlois, referring to the availability of masks. 

"So it makes sense to try and get ahead of it."

Interim CEO of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce Gerard Adams said the business response to the stronger recommendations around masks has been varied, depending on the industry and how much contact employees have with customers. 

"They're certainly adaptable and they will look for ways to make the best of those types of recommendations but they realize the necessity of them,"  said Adams. 

No masks in liquor stores

In provincial liquor stores, there is no mask protocol in place. 

In an email, a representative for the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission told CBC, that it "works closely with government and the Chief Public Health Office in making decisions to ensure the safety of our employees and customers at our locations."

P.E.I.'s top public health official is now strongly recommending people wear a mask in indoor locations where physical distancing isn't possible. (Carolyn Ryan/CBC)

What are the guidelines?

According to guidelines on the province's website, for workplaces outside of health care, other safety measures should be put in place before employees are asked to wear masks. 

Those measures include staying home when sick, maintaining distance and good hygiene, and more cleaning for common surfaces. 

If masks are worn at work, the guidelines say they should not be worn for extended periods of time, be made of plastic or material that easily falls apart, be shared, or impair vision. 

Money to pay for masks

For businesses that qualify, the province has announced the COVID-19 Workspace Adaption Assistance Fund to help pay for changes in the workplace related to COVID-19.

Businesses can be reimbursed up to $2,000 for things like plastic barriers, sanitizer, gloves and masks. The fund is retroactive to March 16, 2020. 

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