Maritime mask measures approach benchmarks to ease rules

As mask mandates disappear in more places, the requirement remains in effect for most indoor public areas around the region.

Benchmarks to ease mask rules are approaching, with each Maritime province tying the number of people who are fully vaccinated to its decision to lift measures around facial coverings.

Prince Edward Island has set a target of vaccinating 80 per cent of its population with two COVID-19 vaccine doses before removing mask rules, with a target of 75 per cent set by New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The latest numbers from Tuesday show a full vaccination rate of 41.6 per cent for New Brunswick, 30.8 per cent for Nova Scotia, and 26.3 per cent for Prince Edward Island.

BUSINESS CONCERNS

Gaye Ann Walsh is a shop owner in Saint John and is wondering how she'll adjust her pandemic procedures once mandatory mask rules end. Prior to New Brunswick making masks mandatory indoors, the province had encouraged business owners to make the decision for their own respective locations.

"It's a little foggy on exactly how things are going to proceed," says Walsh. "It would be nice to find out far in advance the date they plan to change things."

New Brunswick's Department of Health says it anticipates reaching its respective target by early August, with Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island anticipating targets being met in September.

MASK RULES DISAPPEARING

On Monday, Calgary city councillors voted to repeal most of the city's mask rules.

A similar decision came into effect July 1 in Edmonton.

According to the latest data Tuesday, 49.6 per cent of Albertans aged 12 and up are fully immunized against COVID-19.

In England, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he's planning to end mandatory mask measures on July 19, with a final decision to be made July 12.

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places.

In Israel, mask requirements were eased in June but returned days later after a surge in coronavirus infections attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant.

"I think it speaks to the fact that we need to be flexible and nimble," says Dr. Marla Shapiro, CTV's medical specialist. "I think you as an individual will make the decision in terms of where your comfort level is, but against the background noise of numbers coming down."

Mandatory or not, Shapiro says wearing a mask may continue to be a good idea depending on the activity and location.

"If you're in a crowded indoor place, if you're on transit, certainly I would recommend that you do wear a mask despite the fact that numbers are looking so much better."