Why some Islanders aren't retiring their masks even as P.E.I. eases COVID-19 restrictions
'I was self-conscious initially, most times it's fine, it's more common now'
Even as P.E.I.'s COVID-19 restrictions are gradually being relaxed and Islanders regain access to some public spaces, some Islanders aren't planning on retiring their masks.
Robin MacLeod has worn a mask since the pandemic touched down on the Island in March, as a precautionary measure due to a medical condition that affects her lungs and immune system.
"I wanted to be safe and my doctor suggested it," she said. "I was self-conscious initially, most times it's fine, it's more common now."
At the beginning of the pandemic, MacLeod was wearing medical masks and while most people didn't make a fuss, it did manage to get her into some uncomfortable situations.
"You know, all over the news it was 'shortage, shortage, shortage' and one person did say, 'You're not supposed to have a medical mask."
Because of her condition, MacLeod said she had somewhat of a stockpile which she kept handy — but in the end she decided to give a bunch to her doctor's office.
Now as she's run out of medical masks, MacLeod has been wearing masks designed by a friend, who has seen hundreds of orders over the last several weeks.
"It's prettier, I feel more comfortable wearing that."
She also mentioned she's been finding that when she interacts with essential workers like cashiers, they seem to relax once they see she's wearing a mask.
Andrew Austin works for Timeless Medical Systems in Charlottetown and says he only recently started to wear masks in public.
"I actually heard through the news that when we're wearing a mask, we're protecting the people around us," he said. "Now that I know that, it's really about protecting our loved ones, the most vulnerable as well as protecting the essential workers that help keep society going."
It's the beginning of the new normal.— Robin MacLeod
Austin said while he's not leaving his home too much these days, you can spot him in a mask when he's out for essential errands at the grocery store or at the office, should there be other co-workers around.
Both MacLeod and Austin say that recently they've even become a little more fashionable with their masks as well.
"I actually have some custom design on mine, which happens to be little cats," Austin said.
"The one I wore yesterday has flowers, it's kind of a yellow pattern. And the other one has a fox when you expand the mask, it's got a little red fox so I think it's going to be a little more fun to wear them," MacLeod said.
The good thing is if your breath really smells it protects people from that as well.— Andrew Austin
She said she is anticipating the use of masks could go up once traffic on the Confederation Bridge is opened again.
"It's the beginning of the new normal," she said.
As people adjust to the new circumstances, Austin pointed out in addition to the potential preventative aspect of wearing a mask, "the good thing is if your breath really smells it protects people from that as well."
More from CBC P.E.I.
With files from Island Morning