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)

Many Victoria business patrons still masking up despite lift of provincial mandate

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

Greater Victoria small business owners look forward to a returning sense of normalcy as B.C. moved to 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 on Pandora Avenue. “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.”

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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.

Cook Street Moka House owner Will Sparling 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.

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