N.S. hopes mandatory masks will result in education, not enforcement
HALIFAX -- When it comes to COVID-19 regulations, hundreds of charges have been issued in Nova Scotia the past few months.
But when it comes to wearing masks- something that will be mandatory in the province beginning Friday- the government seems to prefer education to enforcement.
Halifax’s Atlantic News newsstand is getting ready for when facial coverings become mandatory in just about all indoors public spaces this Friday.
“Enforcing it? Customers are pretty good, so we will have masks available,” says Michele Gerard, co-owner of Atlantic News.
Gerard says she doesn’t believe there will be too many problems at her store.
“I think it’s going to be harder in other places of business, like bars and restaurants,” says Gerard.
A photo taken Saturday night in the downtown Halifax bar district appears to show very little social distancing, and no visible masks.
In a statement to CTV News, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang says he was disappointed to see the photograph, adding that Nova Scotia’s Liquor and Gaming inspectors will be speaking with operators to ensure public health rules are being followed.
Photos like that are a source of frustration for people who are trying to abide by the protocols.
“They just don’t care,” says one resident. “They don’t distance, they don’t have any consideration for you, or even themselves.”
A June report from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said Nova Scotia had one of Canada’s highest rates of COVID-19 related charges, with 555 filed.
When it comes to Friday’s mandatory mask rule, the government is taking the province that education is better than enforcement.
“I believe and I have confidence that the mass authority of Nova Scotians will do the right thing,” said Dr. Robert Strang while announcing the mandatory mask rule during a news conference last Friday.
“If there’s no pinch at the end of it, if you don’t follow the rule, then why even bother putting a rule in place?” asks one resident.
While no specific fine structure has been set for not wearing a mask, the government has said failure to comply could result in penalties under the health protection act order.
This is a developing issue in many parts of the country. On Monday, Quebec’s provincial government said its two-week grace period for people not wearing a mask on public transit has come to an end, and health officials are hinting at tightening up protocols there in order to intervene.