Ontario has ended most mask mandates: Here's what that means in Windsor-Essex
Some organizations will still require face coverings
Even though Ontario lifted the mask mandate in most spaces Monday, some Windsor business owners are leaving it up to their customers to decide whether or not they're ready to remove the face covering.
As of Monday, the province will no longer require masks in gyms, stores, restaurants, schools and other indoor public areas. But individual businesses and organizations can still require masks if they choose.
Nan Nguyen, owner of Minh Hang Sandwich Shop on Ottawa Street, told CBC News Monday that while she thinks dropping the mask mandate will help small businesses like her own, she said she will continue to wear her mask to protect her newborn child and elderly parents.
"When I think about the mask I'm a little bit worried for my family ... so I decided I still wear mask while serving food to make me feel somewhat that I can protect them," she said, adding that she will respect the decision of her customers.
Nguyen added that she will continue to keep plastic barriers up in her shop.
But, the change in masking requirements was welcome news for Nicholas Spanos, owner of Peak Fitness in Windsor, who said it will make things more convenient for members.
"They don't have to worry about their masks anymore," he said. "But honestly, we were able to operate with all these restrictions pretty easily because of the small size of our facility and the smaller clientele that we have."
Spanos said he's not concerned about the loosening of pandemic restrictions, but the gym will be taking precautions to prevent any outbreaks.
Overall, Monday's rule changes will likely help Peak Fitness, Spanos said.
"I think people feel safer in general," he said. "And I actually think they're looking at smaller facilities to actually go and work out in ... to get away from the crowds that [are in] like commercial gyms."
Rob Scott, owner of Circles & Lines Tattoo Studio in Windsor, also said he's glad to see the masking requirement drop.
"It's nice and relaxed now, we can live our lives," he said.
Scott said he's had customers who want to continue wearing their mask and that he respects it since it's "their right."
He added that he's understanding of people who may have loved ones with a life-threatening illness and want to wear a mask to protect them.
"I am more than willing to put a mask on for their safety as well," he said.
But, Scott said, losing the mask will help him better concentrate on his work.
Windsor mask bylaw lifted
The City of Windsor's masking bylaw for public places was lifted at a council meeting on Monday.
The city will still require its staff to wear masks, however, in accordance with its own internal health and safety policies.
In Chatham-Kent, meanwhile, masks will no longer be required in:
- Municipal service centres;
- Cultural venues, and
- The Chatham-Kent Public Library.
Public transit passengers will need to continue to mask up on Monday, however, as both Transit Windsor and Ride CK have said they'll require passengers to wear masks despite the provincial rule changes.
The mask rule will also remain in place for visitors to Windsor-Essex long-term care facilities.
Both the University of Windsor and St. Clair College have said they'll require staff, students and faculty to continue to wear masks until the end of the winter 2022 semester.
Whether or not to wear a mask will be a personal choice for staff, students, and visitors at Windsor-Essex schools run by the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board and Greater Essex County District School Board as of Monday, however.