by René J. Roy
People in Newfoundland and Labrador will go to bed on Monday, August 9, and wake up to a whole new world, or yet another new normal. On Friday, Aug. 6, Premier Andrew Furey announced that as of 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10, the province will be lifting its mandatory mask requirements.
The mandatory wearing of masks has been in place since Aug. 24, 2020 in NL. About a month ago, the province lifted most of its stringent travel restrictions, and in that time, there have only been eight cases reported (excluding the cases that were reported on anchored vessels).
Premier Furey addressed the hesitancy of some critics, saying, "I know it comes with some anxieties and fears, but the epidemiology supports it, the rates of vaccines support it, and it is the right move at the right time."
He also encouraged anyone who may be uncomfortable with not wearing a mask to continue to do so if they choose.
Flanked by Doctors Janice Fitzgerald and John Haggie, Furey also indicated their intent to closely monitor any variants, stating if they change, "The province will change with them. That could include measures like reintroducing mandatory masking indoors."
Masks will continue to be required in group living facilities such as seniors complexes, and for health authority facilities. Doctor Fitzgerald also announced the lifting of other restrictions.
Indoor gatherings, where physical distancing permits, will be permitted for crowds up to 500 people. Businesses still have the right to require mandatory masks in their places of business, based on their own policies, and anyone who does not wish to wear one in those locations may be asked to leave.
This is a developing story, and will be updated as new information becomes available.