Not quite ready to go maskless in Manitoba

We’re less than a week into our newfound freedom from masks but has yours come off in public yet? Mine hasn’t. And strangely, I’m not even tempted at this point.

With Manitoba easing pandemic restrictions, masks are now “recommended” and not required in public places, said the government. Anybody (and I’m willing to say everybody) who’s had to wear a mask for great lengths of time has been waiting for the OK to ditch the face covering.

But based on the first few days of my random observations in public spaces, it seemed like most people were still playing it safe.

In recent months I’d been asking people what they’d prefer: No masks and limited capacity indoors, or full capacity and still wearing masks.

I was surprised how many people didn’t have an answer to that. For as much as people complain about masks, I thought it would’ve been an easy choice. Apparently not. My response was to keep places near empty if it meant I didn’t have to wear a mask.

So, I was interested to see last Saturday how many people would be maskless inside public spaces. To my surprise, almost everybody was still wearing a mask.

True, it could be that some establishments are still requiring people to mask up, however the places where I was — including a government-run liquor store where it’s only “recommended” according to a sign there — it was all masks everywhere I looked.

My thoughts are that this isn’t so much people wanting to be free from the mask so much as it is not trusting the government saying it’s safe now. Looking at the public’s confidence of those in charge, it shouldn’t be surprising to me that people are still calling their own shots. I was surprised. I really was.

Earlier this summer, when I was in Nashville, I was hesitant about taking off my mask in public but I finally felt comfortable doing so. Part of it was probably peer pressure because people looked at you funny if you were wearing a mask when you didn’t have to.

It’s strange to feel OK going maskless there — in another country, in a city unfamiliar to me — but in my own province I’m saying, “Yeaaaaah, gonna keep the mask on a little longer.”

How much longer until I’m comfortable going naked-faced in public? I’m not sure. For now, it just doesn’t seem right.

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