Victoria food service businesses such as John’s Place restaurant are still seeing patrons wearing masks, despite the lifting of mandatory mask restrictions in B.C. as part of the phase three reopening plan. (Facebook/John’s Place)

Victoria food service businesses such as John’s Place restaurant are still seeing patrons wearing masks, despite the lifting of mandatory mask restrictions in B.C. as part of the phase three reopening plan. (Facebook/John’s Place)

Customers still masking up at many B.C. businesses as provincial mask mandate eases

Phase three reopening plan saw change to mask rules, state of emergency declaration July 1

B.C.’s small business owners felt a returning sense of normalcy over the weekend as B.C. moved into phase three of its pandemic reopening July 1, lifting the provincial mask mandate and government state of emergency declaration.

Lower daily case totals, declining hospitalizations and rising vaccination numbers are the reason for lifting restrictions on masks and other mandates.

“It’s very nice to see people without masks and it’s nice to see smiling faces,” said Norman Cantin, manager at John’s Place, a popular family-run diner in Victoria. “I was talking to some customers about it, though, and they said it’s really weird without masks – they almost feel exposed since we’ve all been wearing masks for a year and a half.”

RELATED STORY: B.C. businesses may still require masks as COVID-19 order lifts

Cantin said that awaiting the constant announcements and changes throughout the pandemic was stressful for them, but they’re seeing more positive trends and are hopeful things continue looking up through the summer and into the fall.

Will Sparling, owner of Victoria’s Moka House said he saw 95 per cent of customers still wearing their masks as they ordered their coffees and treats on July 1.

“From a staff perspective, it was a much more relaxed day and we didn’t have to control the environment, the customers just kept following what was in place beforehand,” he said, adding that people are behaving respectfully toward one another and observing their environment before taking off their masks.

Masks are no long provincially mandated indoors, but are still recommended for those who have not had their second COVID-19 vaccination dose. Businesses may still require customers to wear masks.

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