Both chain stores and local businesses across Regina are introducing mandatory mask policies amid the coronavirus pandemic, that in the absence of blanket direction from the province, are resulting a “patchwork,” says the city’s mayor.
On Monday, discount department retailer Winners made masks mandatory, but Global News observed at least two shoppers in the east end store without face coverings.
On Tuesday, a local brewery, Rebellion, instituted a policy of its own. The company’s president, Mark Heise, said the first customer through the door that afternoon refused to comply, swore at staff and stomped out.
Mayor Michael Fougere says situations like these go to show that despite council’s public plea last week, asking people to wear masks indoors, a more hard-line approach could be what’s needed.
“A firmer stance may have to be taken if we see that people are disregarding this in its entirety,” Fougere told Global News over Zoom on Wednesday.
“Our council feels so strongly about this one that we will be bringing forward greater steps to have people wear masks in public places indoors.”
While the mayor wouldn’t specify a specific date, he did say that this will be coming “very soon.”
City council next meets Aug. 26.
A handful of stores in the Cornwall Centre, including Call it Spring, The Children’s Place, Lululemon and Bath & Body Works, require face coverings. Big box store Walmart made masks mandatory last week.
While the mayor applauds businesses instituting mask polices, he said he thinks the “uneven application” of them is causing issues and doubled down on the city’s stance from last week that the province should bring in some uniformity.
Then, the rules right across Saskatchewan would be consistent, Fougere said, and there would be “no patchwork of applications.”
In a statement, the provincial health ministry reiterated there is no consideration of mandatory masks at this time.
“Public health officials continue to review all measures in place, including those around masks,” the statement said. “A non-medical mask does not replace public health measure that are proven to be effective.”
Heise said despite Tuesday’s rocky start, he’s proud Rebellion Brewing is an early adopter of mandatory masking, noting he believes there is evidence to support non-medical masking as a way to disrupt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“The writing’s on the wall,” Heise said. “We just thought we should get ahead of any mandatory masks and just start getting people comfortable with it now.”
Although Rebellion’s policy got off to a rough start, Heise noted that other people who came through later on were overly supportive.
“Some of our customers were actually on the patio and saw people coming in and just said, ‘Hey, make sure you grab your mask,” Heise said.
“People were like, ‘Thank you very much!’ “View link »