Masks

Despite the change in regulations to the Island’s policy for wearing masks indoors, staff at Tyne Valley Teas Café will continue to wear them when in contact with customers. Owner Carol Rybinski said one of the main reasons they still wear them is not all employees have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and as a business owner, she would prefer to keep her employees safe. From left to right: Kiana MacLeod, Katrina Badali, Carol Rybinski, and Emma Palmer. Jillian Trainor photo

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The owner of Tyne Valley Teas Café has noticed fewer customers coming in without masks on since the change to the Island’s mandatory masking policy on July 9.

“About 90 per cent, I think,” said Carol Rybinski.

The wearing of masks in indoor public settings has been mandatory since November 2020. Dr Heather Morrison, the Island’s Chief Public Health Officer, said this easing of requirements reflects the province’s change in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms Rybinski said while many customers are foregoing masks, staff still wear masks when interacting with customers. They do, however, sometimes take them off when working in the kitchen because of how hot temperatures can get.

It’s a similar situation for Della Rix, co-owner of the Alberton PharmaChoice.

“We’ve got some people coming in with masks, some without,” she said. “We try and respect the fact that if they’re wearing one, we wear one, but there’s definitely a lot less people coming in with them on.”

While masks are no longer mandatory, social distancing measures are still in place. Ms Rybinski said though one of the barriers in the café has been taken down to promote better flow for air conditioning, customers still sanitize their hands when they enter the café, be six feet apart from another table, and must leave through a different door than the one used when they came in.

In Tignish, Ruby Arsenault is also seeing fewer people wearing masks at the Employment Resource Centre, and round town in general. She plans on wearing a mask until her whole family has received their second vaccine.

“I thought it was a bit fast,” she said. “I tend to want to take things a little bit slower, but at the same time, it’s hot, it’s summer, our cases are down, and we want to enjoy summer.”

Ms Rix is happy about the change in regulations, and believes going forward, more people will be wearing them in public. But like Ms Arsenault, she will continue to wear one, especially if she’s around people she’s unfamiliar with.

“I don’t care if they look at me funny,” she said. “I’m not familiar with these people, and I don’t know where they’re from, or if they’ve had their vaccination or not.”

A number of factors should be considered before Islanders decide whether or not they should wear a mask. These factors include their own vaccination status, their own personal health, whether the space they’re in is open or enclosed, along with the company they’re with and who they might be encountering.

Ms Rybinski wouldn’t mind if the masking regulation continued to be enforced. One of her main concerns is her staff, as not all café employees are fully vaccinated yet.

“We’re getting new people in, and the variants are possibly more infectious, and even people who have two vaccines are getting infected,” she said. “I’d like to see what’s happening first before we take off the masks right away. As a business owner, I don’t mind if the customers don’t want to have them on. The staff is happy to wear them and keep themselves safe.”

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