‘It’s not enough’: Students react to return of mask mandate

    Around two months after lifting all COVID-19 restrictions, the Government of New Brunswick reinstated the province-wide mask mandate. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    Around two months after lifting all COVID-19 restrictions, New Brunswick officially reinstated the provincial mask mandate.

    Last Monday, Premier Blaine Higgs and Chief Medical Officer Of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell announced masks would once again become mandatory for all indoor public spaces as of Sept. 23. This came following a spike in cases, signalling the province’s fourth wave.

    The change comes as a relief to many, including St. Thomas University student Megan Henwood.

    “I think it was well-needed, even before yesterday,” she said. “Back in August, cases were starting to climb, and I was just waiting. I was like, ‘okay, government, when are you going to do something?'”

    Megan Henwood, a student at St. Thomas University, said the change to mandatory masking comes as a relief. (Submitted: Megan Henwood)

    First-year STU student Brooke Grothe also said it was a good call to go back to requiring masks indoors. She believes the mask mandate should remain in effect until herd immunity is achieved.

    Higgs previously stated that he stood by his decision to lift the restrictions back in July. But, Grothe expressed she thought restrictions were lifted prematurely and the government should have taken action to curb the spread of the virus sooner.

    “Even now, I feel like it’s not enough,” Henwood said. “I feel like Fredericton, and maybe Moncton should be moved into the orange zone.”

    Grothe believes the emergency measures were effective in keeping the pandemic under control.

    “People were following all the guidelines and everything. But since we’ve gone to the green phase where masks aren’t mandatory, I feel like it’s just kind of blown up a ton since then,” said Grothe.

    Although the provincial rules were not in place when classes began, STU has required all students to wear masks while inside campus buildings.

    Brooke Grothe, a first-year student at St. Thomas University, said returning to mandatory indoor masking is a good call. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    Grothe said she feels more comfortable on campus because of STU’s policy. She appreciates being able to remove the mask when outdoors, but agrees they should be worn indoors, “especially because there are some smaller classrooms and you don’t know where other people are coming from.”

    On the other hand, Henwood feels indifferent towards the mask rules. Knowing her peers are vaccinated allows her to feel safe in class. If conditions allow, she hopes that the mandate will be relaxed by second semester.

    “[The restrictions] kind of make it hard to have social activities,” said Henwood, who lives in residence. “But, it’s a sacrifice I guess I’d be willing to make. I’m sure a lot of people agree with that.”