HALIFAX -- It’s been one week since masks were made mandatory in most indoor, public places in Nova Scotia.

Business owners say it’s been a big adjustment for employees and customers alike, but they’re practicing patience as everyone adapts to new COVID-19 safety protocols.

“There are sometimes you walk by and say ‘oh don’t forget to put your mask on’, and instantly they reach right in and they put their mask on,” says Brian Wilkie, manager of World Gym Dartmouth. “So it’s not much a ‘I don’t want to wear it’, it’s more of a ‘I forgot it, I’ll put it on’.”

At Wilkie’s gym, everyone must wear a mask while walking around the space. You aren’t required to wear a mask while working out on equipment, but it’s encouraged.

“The more I wear it, the more members wear it,” says Wilkie. “You see that it becomes comfortable, it’s almost like ‘where is my mask, I don’t have it, where is it’.”

It’s a similar situation at Dartmouth’s Mic Mac Tavern, where customers must enter with a mask on and have their temperature checked, but don’t need to wear it while eating or drinking.

“If they don’t have a mask, we do offer them one,” says Joel Chiasson, manager of the Mic Mac Tavern. “However, as per Dr. Strang’s request, we don’t enforce it so to speak. So if someone says they have a medical reason not to wear a mask, we don’t question them, we allow them to come in and eat.”

Health care professionals say while the use of masks may be up, it’s still important to wear them properly and practice proper mask hygiene. 

“If you’re going to go out and about in different spaces, as opposed to taking the mask on and off, consider leaving it on for the two or three hours that you have to be out,” says Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist. “In most public spaces, it’s much better to do that then to take it on and off. And once you do have it on, it does need to be above your nose and below your chin to work.”

Dr. Barrett says don’t feel guilty, as this is a learning curve for everyone, and it’s important to understand the reason for wearing a mask.

“This really isn’t the way to prevent COVID, this is the backup way,” explains Dr. Barrett. “This is the extra layer of protection, just because you wear a mask doesn’t mean it gets rid of the need for the six feet of distance.”

The city of Halifax says they’ve received fewer than five complaints around people not wearing masks in municipal facilities and services. All other complaints are referred to the province.