Monday was a major milestone in Ontario’s two-year battle against COVID-19.
Mask mandates were lifted for most public spaces, including schools.
It comes with mixed reaction from residents heading out for the first time with the choice of taking their masks off.
In most settings in Kingston’s downtown, many are sticking to the status quo when it comes to masks.
“The couple stores we’ve been in, everyone’s been wearing their masks and everyone’s just complying with the store rules,” said Julia, a student.
Kingston, Ont. community reacts to lifting of mask mandates
“Everyone has them on in the Dollar Store when I was in there, so I started wondering maybe I’d got it wrong. ‘Cause everywhere I went, everyone had them on. The only place I haven’t seen them on people is outside,” added Ross, who lives in Kingston.
“I just want to be careful with my health, knowing that I’m going home from school soon. So I’m okay wearing my mask, I’ve never had a problem with it. But if people choose to wear their masks or not wear their masks, it’s not really my problem and I kind of think that everyone should have their own opinions on it,” said Abby, also a student.
Some business owners like Justine Scala, co-owner of Minotaur, are choosing to continue requiring masks in-store.
“I’ve been very pleasantly surprised this morning that every person who’s come in has had a mask on without needing to be asked, so that’s very encouraging. I am somewhat concerned about negative pushback, but we’ll just have to wait and see. And I plan to stand firm and keep my staff and my customers safe,” said Scala.
She said some of her staff have health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
“I really hope that everyone who comes in the store respects our feelings on the matter and is kind to our staff and to other customers.”
Masks are also no longer required in schools, though they are still encouraged.
Krishna Burra, director of education for the Limestone District School Board, welcomed loosening restrictions that will allow for opening schools to more than staff and students.
“With these changes there are other impacts as well in the sense that we will be able to host spectators for events in schools,” said Burra.
“And this is an opportunity now for schools to start planning for more traditional kinds of graduation and end of year celebrations as well as we approach the last few weeks of school here this year.”
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