COVID-19 restrictions end in NL on Monday, but some will choose to keep masks in the future

While Newfoundland and Labrador will drop the mask mandate starting Monday, some businesses and facilities will continue their own mask requirements. (David Horemans/CBC)

All of Newfoundland and Labrador’s COVID-19 public health restrictions will be lifted as of 12:01 a.m. Monday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the rules will change everywhere.

The provincial government will no longer require capacity limits, physical distancing or mandatory masks, but businesses, workplaces and other public spaces can choose to continue to require workers and customers to wear a mask .

Amy Anthony, owner and operator of The Nook and Cannery in St. John’s, says she will choose to keep a mask requirement in place at her restaurant beyond Monday.

“It would be much safer to keep that in place,” Anthony said, noting that four of his staff are immunocompromised, as well as some of his regular customers.

“It’s just about making sure they’re comfortable and they’re not deterred from coming in. That’s why I’m sticking to it and trying, for lack of a better term. , to avoid it like the plague.”

Anthony said she also continued the practice of asking customers to fill out contact tracing sheets at the door. While the Nook and Cannery will no longer require a vaccine passport to enter from Monday, Anthony said she would have liked to continue using this system as well.

“Based on what’s going on in the province right now, I don’t think we’re going to win the fight with the vax passes,” she said.

“It’s their choice”

Barry Bennett, owner of Vu restaurant and Slainte whiskey bar in St. John’s, says he will keep tables socially distanced and continue to check vaccination passports at his businesses, but won’t require masks.

Bennett said he will let his staff and customers decide whether they want to wear a mask or not, but he expects many people will still choose to wear them.

“If they feel comfortable enough to come here without a mask, we’re ok with that, if they want to wear a mask, we’re ok with that too. It’s their choice,” said he declared.

“[But] we will not put back the tables that we removed two years ago, we will keep the tables spaced out as they are now, just to make people feel comfortable and safe in our restaurant.”

Barry Bennett is the owner of Vu Resto & Bar and Sláinte on Duckworth Street in downtown St. John’s. Bennett won’t need masks after March 14, but will keep tables six feet apart and still ask for proof of vaccinations. (Henrike Wilhelm/CBC)

The pandemic has been difficult for his businesses, Bennett said, but he thinks it’s time to move past mandatory masking for what he anticipates will be a busy summer.

“We’ve been able to fight back and hopefully at this point where we’re at with dropped warrants [Monday]people would probably feel more comfortable going out,” he said.

“It’s time we ditch the masks now, in my opinion, and get on with our lives.”

Masks still compulsory in schools

In a letter sent to parents on Saturday, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District said masks will still be required in K-12 schools, at least until the start of the Easter holidays on April 14. Another announcement on masking will be made before April. 25.

Additionally, the school district plans to continue following other pandemic protocols, such as keeping students in cohorts, avoiding large gatherings for younger students, and using daily screening questionnaires.

In a news release, the provincial government said masks will continue to be required at vehicle registration offices and government service centers, including waiting areas and other spaces where physical distancing does not can be maintained.

Likewise, Memorial University will require students to keep their masks on until at least April 23, the last day of exams for the winter term.

Additionally, at least two of the regional health authorities maintain a mask-wearing requirement in their facilities. Eastern and Western Health said they plan to continue mandatory masking.

Metrobus in St. John’s will no longer require masks or limit bus capacity on Monday, but masks are still recommended. (Paul Daly/Canadian Press)

Meanwhile, other companies and services are dropping their requirements starting Monday.

Metrobus says masks will no longer be mandatory and there will be no capacity limit on buses. However, they recommend that passengers continue to wear a mask when taking the bus.

Likewise, the government continues to strongly recommend mask-wearing, among other personal health measures, such as washing hands and physical distancing when possible.

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