WEYBURN - Masking mandates were officially dropped in the province of Saskatchewan on Monday. This was followed by many communities announcing that masks were no longer required in public buildings, as they followed the provincial guidelines.
It is important at this time to remain respectful of those who choose to continue to wear masks, and to respect businesses who still request clients to wear a mask. There will be some people who will feel discomfort or socially anxious when they are not wearing their mask, or when they are around those who are not wearing a facial covering.
After two years of living in the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be many people who have anxiety when it comes to reducing social distancing or removing their mask. We are being asked to live with COVID-19, and every person has a different way of handling their own expectations and concerns.
It is important to respect the fact that the reason some people might want to continue to wear a mask is that have they completed their own personal risk assessment, and decided that wearing a mask would be the best thing for themselves, and their family.
It is equally important to respect those who now have the choice to not wear a mask at all. The most important thing, as communities try to live with COVID-19, is to continue to respect each other, and not judge one another.
There have been divides in communities already during the COVID-19 pandemic, that have pushed people to feeling stressed and confused. Already we have seen the ugly face of the divide between those who wanted the proof of vaccination policies, and those who wanted those policies removed.
It is unfortunate that pretty significant implications for public health and safety have become politicized. It is unfortunate that we are still in a state where people might feel bullied or teased because they feel safer when they wear a mask.
It would have been slightly better for a phased-out approach to both ending the proof of vaccination and the masking mandates, so that businesses and community groups are allowed the time to relax their own policies and communicate the change to their employees and customers. Since a certain date was announced, we are now in a situation where there might be a lot of businesses who are aligned with the provincial guidelines, and just as many businesses who still request masking to be in place.
It might be a good thing for many community organizations to have limits on attendance dropped, but at the same time it will take time and patience to actually get those audience numbers back. We all need to find our own comfort level when it comes to living with COVID-19, and for each person that will be different. Respect each other. That is important.