Masks in New Brunswick: A not so mandatory issue

Many people feel the use of face masks or plastic shields should be a mandatory law. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

Between August and September companies in Fredericton, like Walmart, Starbucks and American Eagle made masks mandatory when entering and shopping in their stores.

There is no mandatory mask law in New Brunswick, though the province’s emergency order says New Brunswickers must wear masks if the business requires them and are recommended in public settings. The emergency order stated anyone under two, people with breathing problems and those who cannot remove a mask without assistance are not required to wear them.

Melanee Miranda, a second-year St.Thomas University student who works at Walmart, said the company used to offer free masks for costumers but stopped when wearing masks became mandatory on Aug. 12.

“It’s frightening to know that some of them are not willing to wear one and actually get close to other customers and associates,” she said. 

Miranda said most people are understanding of the policy but some get angry when asked to leave.

Vanessa Diosa, a second-year student at the University of New Brunswick and hairstylist at First Choice Haircutters, said she understands that some people can’t wear masks due to health reasons such as respiratory problems.

“When it comes to medical conditions there are a lot of people with breathing problems. Therefore, they can’t wear something that will restrict them from getting a certain amount of air,” she said. 

Diosa said people with respiratory issues already have problems with breathing and masks make it more difficult. 

Miranda said some people with medical conditions opted for another alternative to protect themselves, the plastic face shield. But some people still refuse to wear face coverings, saying they can’t, she said.

Colin Brideau, a merchandising associate at Walmart, said the mandatory masks are meant to keep people safe.

“Some people might not know that masks are mandatory and that is understandable, but by now most people know that places have gone that way,” he said.

According to CBC New Brunswick, many people consider and demand that the use of masks or face cover plastic shields should be a mandatory law by the government throughout the province, either in public places or when it is not possible to respect six feet of distance with other people. 

“It is the way life is right now, so you are going to have to get used to it,” said Brideau.