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Some err on the side of caution as most COVID-19 rules lift

The province entered Phase 3 of the government's reopening plan Monday
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Pedestrians stroll along Spring Garden Road in Halifax on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. After two years of COVID-19 restrictions, Nova Scotia's mask mandate and other public health rules have come to an end in most indoor public places. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia on Monday lifted most of its COVID-19 restrictions, including the mask mandate in public spaces and gathering limits, but some businesses have decided to err on the side of caution.

Amy McIsaac, owner of a Halifax-area bookstore, said she and her staff will continue masking. Clients of the Dartmouth Book Exchange, however, can choose whether they want to mask inside the store, she added.

"We have a lot of seniors that come in and a lot of them have health issues … we just thought it would be prudent," McIsaac said. 

The province entered Phase 3 of the government's reopening plan Monday, under which restrictions such as gathering limits, social distancing rules and mask requirements are lifted. Masking is still required in health-care settings, seniors residences and in schools.

Halifax's The Neptune Theatre also decided to keep its COVID-19 protocols despite the move to Phase 3, general manager Lisa Bugden said Monday. The theatre will offer shows with reduced seating capacity and require patrons show proof of vaccination, maintain physical distancing and wear masks during performances.

"Our patrons have been cautious about returning to gathering in a theatre," Budgen said. "We introduced our reduced capacity performances because we knew some were simply not comfortable even sharing an arm rest. It's all about managing these changes and understanding what our patrons are comfortable with."

Residents in Nova Scotia expressed mixed views on Monday about the transition to Phase 3.

Bette Geldart, who resides in Truro, N.S., said she's comfortable taking off her mask, but she said she expects people to continue following certain health orders for the foreseeable future because residents have been "conditioned" to be cautious about the pandemic.

"I think we're all responsible for our own selves and our own health, and I, personally, will be removing my masks in a lot of cases," Geldart said. "I won't be wearing a mask unless I'm going to hospital or my doctor's appointment (or) if I go see my grandparents .... I feel that the government knows what they're doing."

The government had said masking would no longer be required inside schools but reversed that decision on Friday.

Premier Tim Houston said the government changed position in response to advice from a pediatric advisory group, which warned about continued community transmission of COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2022.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Danielle Edwards, The Canadian Press

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