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What you need to know about wining and dining with a mask

Starting Friday—it'll be mandatory.

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Keep your mask up until it's time to chow down. - IAN SELIG
  • Ian Selig
  • Keep your mask up until it's time to chow down.
Last Friday, premier Stephen McNeil and doctor Strang announced that starting July 31, non-medical masks would be mandatory for most people in most indoor public places.

“We cannot become complacent. COVID is a reality, we are going to have to learn to live with it,” said Premier McNeil during the announcement.

This includes retail stores, salons and spas, places of worship and of course bars and restaurants.

“The evidence on non-medical masks has evolved throughout the pandemic,” said Strang, who wasn't on board with non-medical masks when COVID-19 first broke out in the province in March. But the latest information about the disease and how it spreads is pointing to masks as a big component of slowing its transmission.

Public health hasn’t backed off on their other recommendations like frequent hand-washing and keeping small personal bubbles, but Strang says masks are necessary before the second wave comes to Nova Scotia “sometime in the fall.”

From high-end bistros to take-out spots, the new regulations mean customers have increased responsibility to protect both themselves and the people keeping their bellies full and drinks topped up. Here's how:

Mask up
Non-medical masks are required in licensed food establishments, as well as concessions stands at movie theatres, shopping mall food courts and any location where food or beverages are being served. You can take off your mask for eating and drinking, but you must wear it while you’re waiting to be seated, entering or exiting the premises, paying your bill or going to the washroom.

Stick to your bubble
While restaurants are being cleaned more frequently, tables are sanitized between customers and servers are doing their best to keep groups separate with the required two-metre distancing, it's still on you to keep out of the way of other customers. Strang announced July 24 that people must remain seated at their table and not mingle with other groups. “We’re seeing that in other jurisdictions, even in Canada,” he said, and it hasn't gone well. See the outbreak in Montreal in early July if you need more convincing.

Remember: exceptions apply
If you see someone not wearing a mask, don’t get confrontational. They may have good reason for not doing so, such as an invisible disability. “Businesses have the right themselves to refuse entry or to refuse service to people that are not wearing a mask when they’re required to, but always with the allowance for the small number of people who have a valid reason not to be wearing a mask,” said Strang. This applies to both customers and servers, who are also required to mask up.

Living with the risk of COVID-19 is becoming the new normal in our province, our country, and our world. It's time we all get used to masks because they're here to stay.

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