Some Manitoba businesses aren’t waiting for a directive from provincial health experts about mandatory masks in their establishment. They are implementing their own policy to make sure staff and customers are safe.
As of Monday, August 10, all five Orangetheory Fitness gyms in the province required mandatory masks for patrons in common areas of the gym, but not at work out stations.
Megan Gabert, who owns the Orangetheory franchises in Sage Creek and Bridgwater, says Manitoba is falling in line with what corporate office is doing in other provinces such as Alberta and Ontario. In addition to being consistent with the rest of the country, she is listening to what provincial health experts here are saying.
“Mainly if you can’t physical distance, if that is more tricky, like when you are in a lobby or common area, wearing a mask is a good idea,” said Gabert.
As people come in the lobby and take off their shoes, or put their coats on when they are leaving, it is mandatory they wear a mask because they are less than 2 two metres apart. Once they get to their workout station they can hang up their mask and put it on a hook which will be sanitized along with the rest of the gym equipment.
“We want to make sure we are providing as safe as an environment as humanly possible while still providing a great workout,” said Gabert.
She says people are so relieved and happy to be back at the gym after a three month lockdown, there hasn’t been any push back.
“Zero negative comments. I think people were anticipating this, that it could be mandatory soon with numbers going up. It’s already happening at different stores and some school divisions. Everyone can see the writing on the wall. I do think people would have pushed back if we required it while they were working out,” said Gabert.
Masks at art gallery, MEC, Walmart
Other establishments are doing the same. As of Tuesday, the Winnipeg Art Gallery is implementing a mandatory mask policy. All guests are being asked to wear a mask, scarf or bandana covering the nose and mouth while in public spaces in the gallery.
If patrons don’t have one, they can purchase a disposable mask at the door for a dollar.
A few blocks away at Mountain Equipment Co-op on Portage Avenue, a mandatory mask policy has been in place since July 22. Manager Kaitlyn Peters says except for children under two and people with a medical exemption, all customers have to wear them.
Peters said as of this week the majority of people are coming in with their own and willing to comply.
As of August 12, all Walmart stores in Canada are requiring customers and staff to wear a mask while inside their stores.
Malls are still figuring out how they will move forward, with some stores inside taking the initiative and asking customers to wear a mask before entering.
Cadillac Fairview, which owns and operates Polo Park in Winnipeg, says while it supports any precaution that would make shoppers and staff feel safe, it wasn’t clear in a written statement whether it was directing stores to make masks mandatory.
“A mask or facing covering is an additional measure we can take to reduce the spread of COVID -19 and keep each other safe, and we are supportive of this guidance,” the statement said.
Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, has not issued a directive on mandatory mask wearing, only advising people to wear one when they can’t physically distance indoors.
But those who have already implemented their own policy say they won’t be surprised if mandatory mask wearing is more prevalant across the province heading into the fall.
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