'It's about what's likely coming': N.S. officially mandates masks
HALIFAX -- Whether it was going for their morning coffee or out running errands, many Nova Scotians wore a new accessory on Friday – a mask. That's because masks became mandatory at most indoor public spaces in the province on July 31.
"We need to now get in the habit; along with our wallet, our purse, our car keys – always have a mask," said Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, during a press conference on Friday. "Whether it's keeping one in the car, at the door, wherever you keep those other things that you take every time you go outside the house."
Although there is some apprehension about mask-wearing, at restaurants such as Stubborn Goat, patrons' response, so far, has been positive.
"When you come to a restaurant – when you enter into any public place – as you're standing up and moving around, you should wear a mask because you are moving around," says Stubborn Goat co-owner, Joe McGuinness. "But when you sit down at your table, you can take your mask off, consume your food and beverage when you go out."
At the Gym
The gym experience has changed a lot since the pandemic hit.
At the GoodLife Fitness location on Spring Garden Road, greeters meet clients at the front door to ensure they have a mask.
"They'll be wearing their mask as they move in and out of the club, between parts of our club, between machines and certainly in the change rooms as well," says GoodLife Fitness divisional operations manager, John Marsh. "At this juncture, exercising or physically exerting yourself on a machine – as long as you're social distancing two meters – you're not required to wear that mask while exercising."
Getting in the Habit
As for why masks are being made mandatory when there are only two active cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, Dr. Strang says health officials now have evidence that the general use of masks is effective in reducing the transmission of the virus.
Strang also says it's important to make masks a habit now.
"The reason that it's important to make masks mandatory now, even with few active cases, is part of being prepared for the likely occurrence of a second wave," said Strang. "It's not about the epidemiology today, it's about what's likely coming."
Individuals can be fined for not following public health rules; however, Strang says the province will not be taking a heavy-handed approach when it comes to masks.
"It's written in the public health order that people who are non-compliant and are shown to be non-compliant, they can be fined $1,000," said Strang. "But again, that's not our primary focus in this."
Children under two years of age are exempt, as well as children aged two to four – when their caregiver cannot get them to wear a mask. People with a valid medical reason for not wearing a mask are exempt.
Where to Wear
Indoor public places where masks are mandatory include:
- Retail businesses
- Shopping centres
- Personal services businesses such as hair and nail salons, spas, body art facilities, except during services that require removing a mask
- Restaurants and bars, except while people are eating or drinking
- Places of worship or faith gatherings
- Places for cultural or entertainment services or activities such as movie theatres, concerts and other performances
- Places for sports and recreational activities such as a gym, pool or indoor tennis facility, except while doing an activity where a mask cannot be worn
- Places for events such as conferences and receptions
- Municipal or provincial government locations offering services to the public
- Common areas of tourist accommodations such as lobbies, elevators and hallways
- Common areas of office buildings such as lobbies, elevators and hallways, but not private offices
- Public areas of a university or college campus, such as libraries or student union buildings, but not classrooms, labs, offices or residences
- Train or bus stations, ferry terminals and airports