She's making masks optional for customers — and could be fined up to $6,000.
Marie-Pier Labelle says she's willing to risk thousands of dollars in fines to see her customers smile again. The owner of L'Assomption juice and smoothie bar Nutrition Xtreme announced on February 15 that she's making masks optional inside the store despite the Quebec mask mandate, which makes face-coverings mandatory in indoor or enclosed spaces.
Nutrition Xtreme employees will keep wearing their masks, Labelle said.
In a message to MTL Blog, she described her frustration after two years of mandatory masking with no end in sight. "We are not puppets, it is time that we stand up," she said.
Labelle also worries about the well-being of her children. She said enforcing the use of face-coverings has been a "big fight" in her household since the beginning of the mandate. "This is far from being a life for them."
"I am aware that I can get tickets but what is more important? Our mental health or the ticket?" she asked.
"Seeing the beautiful smiles of my clients is so soothing. To see this happiness in front of me is much more important to me than a ticket!"
The Ministry of Health, however, stands firm on the issue. In a statement sent to MTL Blog, the ministry said that while it "understands" mask fatigue, it insists that businesses continue to enforce public health rules.
Individuals and businesses who do not comply are liable to fines ranging from $1,000 to $6,000.
As other jurisdictions in North America drop their mask mandates, Quebec still hasn't given a clear indication of when residents can stop wearing face-coverings in indoor public settings.
At the beginning of February, interim National Public Health Director Dr. Luc Boileau said masking will last until "at least" mid-March and likely beyond.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
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