‘Safety trumps everything’: Some local businesses keeping mask mandate in place

Some businesses in Waterloo Region are keeping masking requirements in place, despite the province lifting its mandate on March 21.

THEMUSEUM in downtown Kitchener said masks will continue to be mandatory for visitors and capacity limits will be capped at 50 per cent to maintain physical distancing.

“In my opinion safety trumps everything at this time,” said David Marskell, CEO of THEMUSEUM. “It’s a small request in consideration of everything that’s going on right now that people continue to wear masks, get through this run of Unzipped and then reevaluate from there.”

THEMUSEUM said its mask mandate will remain in place until its exhibit, the Rolling Stones Unzipped Tour, wraps up at the end of the month.

The Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce said the reopening and lifting of restrictions won’t be the same across the board, as each business will make its own decision.

“We’re in an environment now where people and business owners have to make a choice to respect their own personal dynamic, and their own workplace, and their own employees,” said Ian McLean, the chamber’s president and CEO. “So that may have an impact on their bottom line, I don’t think we know that yet.”

He said regardless of what route businesses take, people need to be respectful of their decision.

Some residents are concerned about the mandate ending.

“It’s terrifying,” said Samatha Estoesta.

This has a three-year-old daughter who is immune-compromised, and because of her age, she can’t be vaccinated.

“Mask mandates were one of the few things that kept us safe when we were going to get those basic necessities.”

She said her family is now going back to lockdown living and ordering necessities online to avoid going to places where masks won’t be worn.

The Region of Waterloo implemented its own face covering bylaws before the province mandated it. A special meeting to discuss the future of those bylaws will be held on March 16.

This has signed up to be a delegate at that meeting.

“If we keep the mask bylaws up for our region that means grocery stores are still safer to go into.”

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