As Manitoba lifts mandate, some shoppers, businesses, students sticking with masks

A Winnipeg greenhouse owner says he won’t change his store’s mask rules, even though the province has lifted the last of its public health orders.

Sage Garden Greenhouses owner Dave Hanson is immunocompromised, as are some of his staff. He says keeping the rule makes sense for his business.

“We know that COVID is still present in our community, it’s still spreading,” he said. “We’re not necessarily getting all of the data that we used to get, and so I think it’s just a wise, sensible, easy decision to continue to do,” he said.

Manitoba’s last pandemic-related public health orders expired overnight, which means as of Tuesday morning, masks were no longer required in indoor public spaces across the province, although they are still strongly recommended.

Some organizations and businesses, like Sage Garden, have chosen to continue to require them.

“We want to make sure that we use this small, simple tool to keep ourselves, our staff, our customers, our community as safe as possible, and continue to think about the impact there has been on our health-care system, which continues to have such backlogs,” Hansen said.

A Sage Garden Greenhouses employee plants seedlings on Tuesday. The business still requires that shoppers and workers wear masks, even after the province lifted the mask mandate. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Lisa Powell, a loyal customer of the greenhouse, says it’s not a big ask.

“I’m fine with it. I would love to not wear a mask anymore, just like everybody else, but I feel that if a store wants me to wear it and they feel more comfortable, then I’m going to wear it. I don’t want anybody to feel uncomfortable,” she said.

Not all of the greenhouse’s customers have been so gracious.

The business has taken heat online, and staff say in the past, some customers have been belligerent.

Karin Aldinger, who works at Sage Garden, said it was a challenge in the past to enforce the province’s mask mandates.

“Some people stood firm that they thought it was an infringement on their rights. We had to be kind of, not forceful, but very vigilant at times,” she said.

Student reactions

Meanwhile, reactions were mixed at one Winnipeg school.

Students CBC spoke with at Dakota Collegiate seemed evenly split — with some saying they will continue wearing masks and others going without in the classroom for the first time in months.

Beatriz Garcia says she’s still wearing her mask in her Grade 9 classes.

“I think we should keep wearing the mask because COVID is still a big problem and a lot of people are still getting sick,” she said.

Fellow Grade 9 student Syane Ayane agrees, although she finds wearing a mask fogs up her glasses.

“I do understand that they’re there for a reason, and because of that, I think we should still keep wearing them, though I do wish for this to be over soon,” she said.

Grade 12 student Parker Gaudes said he’s glad the mandate has been lifted, and left his mask at home.

“I think it’s been long enough. It’s time.”

Fellow Grade 12 student Asher Dudek didn’t wear a mask to school on Tuesday, but says he isn’t opposed to putting one on.

“If I’m just in close contact, I’m talking to them or something like that, then I would put it on if they felt like they wanted me to,” he said.

“If someone wanted me to wear one, I would wear one.”