Mixed messaging: To wear a mask, or not, depends on who you're asking

At lunch time on Tuesday, most people walking along the sidewalks of Fredericton’s downtown were not wearing a mask – although many establishments have signs encouraging people to wear them if they’re entering their business.

And while New Brunswick’s deputy chief medical officer of health acknowledged last Thursday it’s no longer the law, she’s still “urging” all New Brunswickers to wear one.

“It is true that masks are not required by law as they were earlier in the pandemic, but remember, we are dealing with a communicable disease that can and will spread quickly among the unprotected,” said Dr. Cristin Muecke.

Health Minister Dorothy Shephard reiterated that message.

“We know that wearing masks in indoor public spaces is a smart thing to do,” she said at the same news conference.

Premier Blaine Higgs said in an interview Monday evening that he feels he’s on the same page as public health but admitted “it’s rare now that I wear a mask at all.”

“I think the caution that was certainly there was that if you’re unvaccinated then absolutely, strongly recommend that you wear a mask. And if anyone has any apprehensions of any kind? Feel free to wear a mask, no one is going to chastise anyone for wearing a mask for protecting themselves,” he said.

Higgs said hospitalizations are the key measurement on whether mandated restrictions should return.

But some say they feel more comfortable with Dr. Muecke’s advice.

“I’m not fully vaccinated yet, so when I do get fully vaccinated I feel like it might lift that weight off my shoulder, but still, it’s just better to be safe than sorry,” said Cameron Staffen.

If masking was mandated again – or other restrictions were to return – resident Katherine Sidenius says she may have mixed feelings, as someone who’s already fully vaccinated.

“We want to do what’s right for the community, and we want to do what’s right for our kids and our neighbours, but I do think it’s bubbling, there’s some anger there, there’s some frustration there,” she said. “You know, is that really fair? I’ve done my part – you need to do your part. So I do hope that people are reading really legitimate news sources… and making choices that make sense for themselves, but if possible – choose to get vaccinated.”