C/O Mick Haupt

A number of small businesses in Hamilton continue to require masks in their spaces, even after the provincial requirement has been dropped 

On March 21, 2022, the province dropped its mask mandate, which had been in place since the early days of the pandemic. Now, masks are no longer required in most indoor settings, including public schools, with few exceptions. This change has also come with the removal of regulatory requirements which were in place for businesses, including the expectation around passive screening and safety plans. 

However, a number of small businesses in Hamilton have opted to continue the mask requirements in their spaces. Willard’s Ice Cream is among these businesses, having announced the continuation of the policy on March 22 over their social media. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Willard's (@willardsicecream)

“Something that I always believed since day one of opening Willard’s is trying to be a safe space for as many people as possible. It's part of the reason why we chose to be a nut free ice cream shop . . . because I felt it’s a small sacrifice to be able to serve and help a larger group of people. So to me that same mindset has just carried on into this: if I can wear a mask to just help even one person feel safe or to protect one person from catching COVID, that's worth it. It's not sacrifice to me,” explained Matt Willard, owner of Willard’s. 

Willard has lost a few customers as a result of the decision, but his decision has largely been met with strong support from the community, both online with an outpouring of positive comments on the post and from customers in person who have expressed relief and gratitude 

As it’s the slow season for Willard’s, Willard is currently the only employee. He noted if he did have more employees, he would have discussed the policy further with them, with concern for their safety regarding not only COVID-19, but also belligerent customers. 

“We did have some aggressive people last summer . . . When you don't have the government support behind you saying it's required, it just means that the argument can go longer and can be more frustrating. In the end, people just hope people will do what's best,” explained Willard. 

Many other local businesses also shared the initial post on their stories and took the opportunity to highlight other businesses, including Cake and Loaf and Candi Werx, also opting to continue the masking requirements. 

Many more businesses, including the Bard and Bear and the East Hamilton Cheese Company, have also issued statements in the last week that, although they will not be continuing to mandate masking, they are strongly encouraging it their spaces and will continue expect their employees to be masked. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Bard and Bear (@thebardandbear)

Over the next weeks, these businesses will be continuing to observe the situation and continue to strive to operate in a way that reflects their commitment to fostering safe, welcoming spaces for all community members.  

“For us, we are looking at it on a week by week basis of where the numbers are at and what that means . . . I want this to be over. I want to have people in my shop again. I want to have to not wear a mask. I want to see smiling kids’ faces eating ice cream. But . . . I care about people's health more than that. It's hard. I don't think anyone's found this easy [but] it's just the sacrifices to be made for our community and for the people we care about,” said Willard. 

C/O Georgia Kirkos, McMaster University

"Masking is one of the most effective ways of reducing the spread of COVID"

McMaster University has announced that the mask mandate will continue to the end of May 2022.

"The sixth wave of COVID continues to unfold and the most recent modelling indicates that it will be several weeks before the peak of the wave is seen. As a result, we have decided to extend
McMaster’s mandatory mask mandate to the end of May 2022. This means that everyone at a
McMaster site must wear a mask in all indoor settings including classrooms, libraries, crowded
spaces and close workspaces," reads a letter from President David Farrar and Provost Susan Tighe.

The sixth wave of COVID continues to unfold and the most recent modelling indicates that it will be several weeks before the peak of the wave is seen.

president david farrar and provost susan tighe, mcmaster university

All COVID-19 measures currently in place will continue until the end of May. This includes MacCheck and both the vaccine and mask mandates.

This announcement comes only a few short weeks after the university announced that mandates would end on May 1.

"We are able to take this step, which allows us to align with government requirements, because of the respect that people across the University have shown to each other by getting vaccinated and wearing masks," reads the original statement.

Farrar and Tighe did state on March 25 that if the pandemic were to get worse, they would not hesitate to reinstate all mandates to protect the McMaster and Hamilton communities.

"If pandemic circumstances and public health advice shifts and government requirements change, we may need to quickly re-instate a mask requirement and a vaccine policy."

Frankly, we aren't terribly surprised by this extension. On Monday, Ontario's top doctor Kieran Moore stated that he "strongly recommends" all Ontarians to continue wearing their masks.

This is a developing story.

Subscribe to our Mailing List

© 2023 The Silhouette. All Rights Reserved. McMaster University's Student Newspaper.