Some restaurants on P.E.I. are getting rid of mask requirements for people dining inside and out.
The decision follows the province deciding to drop the mandatory mask mandate on P.E.I. put in place in November to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Steve Murphy is leaving the decision about mask use up to customers. Murphy is part of the Restaurant Survival Group, an organization formed during the pandemic as a way for restaurants to address pandemic protocols and their effect on business.
"I think what I am seeing is an overwhelming majority of people are ready to take masks off," said Murphy, who is also co-owner of Slaymaker and Nichols in Charlottetown and Blue Mussel Café in North Rustico.
Murphy has been trying to keep track of how many customers are entering his establishments with a mask.
"We do a poll here," he said. "We watch everyone coming in. We see what percentage of people have masks versus don't have masks. And about 60 per cent of the people coming in last night didn't have a mask on."
He said some of those wearing masks removed them once they noticed others weren't wearing masks.
Rob Watson and Anna Mcnamara, who did not wear masks, were out enjoying a meal at Blue Mussel on Sunday afternoon.
"It's great," Watson said. "We have our freedom back, finally."
Both Watson and Mcnamara said it was nice to be able to walk into a restaurant unmasked, sit down and have a meal.
"I just hope it stays this way now because we all want that back," Mcnamara said.
Rules vary for servers at Murphy's restaurants depending on the task. When they are working at a table inside they wear masks but they can remove them if they are serving outside.
Murphy said there was no real plan for when the mask mandate was lifted. He said is seeing how things play out with the rules he has in place.
He said some Island restaurant owners are going to meet again on Thursday to discuss how things are going.
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