Issues around mask usage have caused a Saskatoon business to start seeing people by appointment only.
McQuarries Tea and Coffee Merchants, a longtime staple on Broadway Avenue, switched to curbside and delivery to continue operations at the beginning of the pandemic. In early June, the store reopened to the public, but on Sept. 28, it will be locking its doors once again as a safety precaution.
"It's not a daily thing per se, but at least once or twice a week, someone will come and they're not wearing their mask," said Adam Anton, who has been running the family-owned business since 2011. "People, I don't know, they don't seem to take it very seriously."
Anton said while no one has been "really outrageous" about the mandatory masks, he's heard a range of reasons as to why they can't wear their mask, with one of the most recent being vertigo.
"We just don't want to take any chances," he said.
Anton said his staff are in a high-risk age bracket and that some of the patrons at the store are elderly. He said people refusing to follow the guidelines are putting everyone at risk.
He said he understands there are people who cannot wear a mask, but noted there have been months for people to adapt to life during the pandemics. Anton said the shop started to provide masks to those who don't have one for free, but said if you refuse to wear a mask, you won't be permitted inside.
He's felt some frustration at people flouting the rules.
"There's an instinctual threat response that I initially get, because there is a small chance — but a very real chance — that I could get a disease that could potentially kill me," he said. "So usually, I start to feel angry about it, because it feels very inconsiderate and reckless."
Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, said earlier this month that consistent mask use can slow down the spread of COVID-19.
"If the choice is between keeping schools open, keeping businesses open and doing the simple act of putting a mask on when indoors in a public place, versus having an increase in transmission, which may result in school closures or many lockdowns, I think I would definitely recommend the simple act that keeps everyone safe," Shahab said.
DeeAnn Mercier, executive director of the Broadway Business Improvement District, said it's troubling to hear some people are not taking the guidelines seriously.
"It's very frustrating to hear that businesses are trying to take precautions to keep their employees and customers safe, also to give every one piece of mind, and yet, it doesn't seem like people are willing to work with that."
Mercier said that for small, family-run shops, a single case of COVID-19 could result in a prolonged closure, as full staffs may have to isolate.
"It's not just as easy as a clean up and then back to work," she said.
Marilyn Braun-Pollon, vice-president of prairie and agri-business for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), said small businesses in Saskatchewan are already facing "extremely challenging times." She said 76 per cent of Saskatchewan businesses are open, with roughly half fully-staffed, but only about 36 per cent are making normal sales.
"We have a long-road to recovery and lots of challenges ahead," she sad.
Braun-Pollon said the public has a role to play in ensuring these businesses remain open and the CFIB is encouraging people to think and shop local.
"At the end of the day, we really do want to see as many businesses survive as possible and right now is the best time to support small business," she said. Adding: "There's no economic recovery without small business recovery."