A Red Deer business owner says it’s refreshing to see customers’ smiling faces again, now that the provincial mask mandate has been mostly lifted.
Debbie Gagne, who owns Second Chance Clothing & Home Decor, said it’s up to staff and customers to wear masks if they choose.
“Friday was our first day (without masks) because we were closed on Canada Day (Thursday). It felt very weird all day long, but it was so nice to have people coming in,” said Gagne.
The Government of Alberta moved into Stage 3 of its reopening plan on Canada Day. As a result, the majority of the province’s public health measures have been lifted. The provincial mask mandate has mostly been lifted, with masking is still required in hospitals, continuing care, mass transit, rideshares, and taxis.
Gagne said she believes the end of the mask mandate will increase the number of shoppers at Red Deer businesses.
“There are a lot of people who were opposed to them, there were a lot of people who felt they couldn’t wear them medically,” she said.
“I think it’ll improve a bit for every business. I don’t think we’ll see too great of an impact on ours because our customer base for the most part was OK with following the mandate.”
With the easing of restrictions, more people will be able to shop with friends, which will help her business, said Gagne.
“Now you can come, enjoy the company of a friend, joke together, try things on and compare things. I think that actually will help because shopping is meant to be a fun experience. We were probably missing a bit of that with the restrictions that were in place,” said Gagne.
Danielle Chiasson, manager at Crop Hair Boutique in Red Deer, said the lifting of the mask mandate won’t create the biggest impact on the salon.
“I don’t think the masks made a difference, it was the other restrictions we were under,” she said.
“With the restrictions we were under, we couldn’t take walk-ins and we couldn’t double-book. Now we can take in those walk-ins and we can double-book. The masks didn’t hinder the amount of people coming in.”
Clients will be able to choose to wear a mask while visiting the salon.
“We’re accommodating anyone’s comforts. I personally feel like … we should take some precautions – we’re still keeping up with sanitary measures,” said Chiasson.
Nicole Derricott, one of the owners of True North Axe Throwing, said her business has been closed since November due to COVID-19 restrictions. It was able to reopen under limited restrictions in June, before opening more fully since Canada Day.
The lifting of the mask mandate specifically won’t impact True North too much, Derricott said.
“Masks are not mandatory – they’re optional. But they are recommended if you’re not vaccinated. Anyone who has been vaccinated is at a lesser risk of spreading COVID and also catching COVID, which is great,” said Derricott.
“I think is wearing the mask can be (difficult) for some people, because it is hard to do physical activity with the mask on, but safety does come first and I think people understand that. If the province came out and said we’d need to wear masks again because it wasn’t safe, then we would of course oblige with those rules.”