Many Sask. residents still wear masks despite restrictions lifting

·3 min read
Some Regina and Saskatoon residents are still wearing masks even though the province lifted all public COVID-19 restrictions. (Germain Wilson/CBC - image credit)
Some Regina and Saskatoon residents are still wearing masks even though the province lifted all public COVID-19 restrictions. (Germain Wilson/CBC - image credit)

All of Saskatchewan's public COVID-19 restrictions may have been lifted last week, but that doesn't mean people are throwing caution to the wind.

Some businesses say many of their customers are still wearing masks.

Darcy Anton, who works at McQuarries Tea & Coffee Merchants in Saskatoon, says a "majority" of customers continue to wear them.

"They know we're a small family business and they like to help keep us safe. So we're very appreciative of that," Anton said.

Anton said all staff are still required to wear masks.

"We just want to be safe rather than sorry," Anton said, noting she's concerned about the more contagious coronavirus variants circulating in Canada.

Submitted by McQuarries Tea & Coffee Merchants
Submitted by McQuarries Tea & Coffee Merchants

Anton hopes that while in the store, customers keep taking safety precautions that have been effective so far during the pandemic.

"We know no one here caught COVID, and it was because we were so careful with cleaning and wearing masks and we want to keep it that way," she said.

'Protect everyone and ourselves'

Robyn Thurlow, owner of Saskatoon Herbs 'n' Health, says she estimates 75 to 80 per cent of people still wear masks in her food store.

She says she has been encouraging customers to mask up and is grateful they are listening.

"There's so many people who have not been able to get vaccinated for a variety of reasons or who are health compromised," Thurlow said. "We want to do our best to protect everyone and ourselves. And that's the consensus I'm getting from my customers as well."

In Regina, there's a similar situation.

Youngseo Lee was enjoying her time at Victoria Park when she spoke to CBC News. She says she'll keep wearing a mask until at least the end of this year.

Germain Wilson/CBC
Germain Wilson/CBC

"Even though the restriction is lifted, I feel more comfortable wearing the mask when I go into the shopping mall or where there are more people and especially when I see the delta [variant] going on in the news," Lee said.

She says she wore masks even before the COVID-19 pandemic to keep warm in the winters and to protect her face from the sun in the summers.

"So for me wearing a mask because of COVID doesn't really feel out of norm for me."

Brenna Ritter also spoke to CBC News about why she's chosen to keep wearing a mask.

She says she believes restrictions were lifted prematurely.

"I just want to protect myself, my family and make sure I'm doing my part in not spreading COVID," Ritter said. "I want things to go back to normal."

Masking likely to continue this summer: SHA

Dr. Cory Neudorf, senior medical health officer at Saskatchewan Health Authority, says it's hard to pinpoint exactly when people will no longer need masks as people's risks of infection vary depending on their daily activities.

However he predicts that "optimistically," masks won't be needed in the fall — though that will depend on the rate of vaccination.

"Over the summertime, we will continue to see case numbers drop. And there will probably be a time in late summer, early fall, when there are fewer and fewer places where masking would be necessary," he said.

"But then come fall, if the immunization rates haven't come up high enough, there's a real possibility to see another resurgence of COVID."

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