COVID rule rollback divides Halifax students

Some support N.S. government’s move to make masks optional; others call for caution

Dalhousie and King’s students expressed mixed views to The Signal about Nova Scotia’s decision to lift COVID-19 restrictions. Masks were especially divisive.  

The province dropped mandatory gathering limits, social distancing and masking on March 21.  

While Dalhousie and King’s will continue to enforce the COVID rules on-campus, students expressed opinions ranging from relief to trepidation when asked what they’ll do when they leave school grounds. 

“I’ll probably still wear a mask if I feel like I’m in a really crowded space where I don’t know people,” third-year Dalhousie student Kayla Perkins said shortly before the province lifted the restrictions.  

“I think that it’s nice to be able to have the option,” she said. “Sometimes you just don’t want it on your face.”   

Second-year University of King’s College student Grace Power disagreed with the total lifting of restrictions. 

“I don’t know if I would feel as safe or comfortable going out and enjoying those outdoor spaces knowing that the people around me could be unvaccinated and not wearing their mask,” she said. “God knows they could be transmitting. 

“I don’t think anyone wants to be the guinea pigs for that.” 

Second-year King’s student Raeesa Alibhai was in the middle.  

She said that on days when she forgets to bring a mask, she’ll still visit indoor establishments such as grocery stores. But, she added, “I will always actively try to have one (mask) on me.” 

Alibhai acknowledged she was of two minds on masks.  

“It’s hard because it’s almost like I want to advocate for the ‘oh we should be wearing masks’ but at the same time to what end?” Alibhai asked. “Like when is this going to end? So, I am very conflicted.”  

The mixed masking views among students mirror the results of a provincewide poll early this March. The Narrative Research survey of 1,212 Nova Scotians from March 4 to 8 suggested 48 per cent supported the removal of mandatory public mask mandates, while 47 per cent were against. 

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Strang, has cautioned the pandemic is not over and that people should continue to be cautious by wearing masks.  

Alibhai, the King’s student, said the dropping of COVID restrictions hasn’t lowered her apprehension.  

“COVID’s the type of thing where it’s like ‘oh is it going to strike again?’ ” she said. 

“And so it’s always at the back of my mind.” 

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