On a busy Tuesday lunch hour at Green Door Restaurant & Bakery, most of the customers are still wearing masks while reading the buffet.
Despite the province lifting the mask mandate, signs on the door say their use is “strongly encouraged.”
“We just want to continue with caution given what we’ve been through as a business,” said co-owner Jenny Ong.
They are one of a number of companies that recommend or even ask customers to continue masking.
“Our staff said they were just not comfortable being completely exposed,” said Faustina Konkal, owner of Fabrications Ottawa. “They would spend some time seeing how things went in the province after the March break.”
The fabric store Carling Avenue has received hundreds of positive messages from customers about the continued masking, but there are consequences as well.
Ottawa business owners say a star reviews and negative comments often follow any decision to continue public health measures.
“I got one this morning from someone who has never shopped here, does not live in Ottawa,” Konkal continued. “Whatever I decided on, I would make someone angry, and I’ve had to make dozens of those decisions in the last two years, and I’m tired of it.”
The fear of what can quickly become harmful backlash is far from unique. Several restaurants refused to go on record with CTV Ottawa because of concerns about the impact it could have on their business.
Even those who choose to ask their customers to continue masking say that if push is going to push, they will not enforce it.
“Our position is that we will not enforce it, we will just recommend it and strongly encourage people to wear their mask,” Ong said.
The staff at The Green Door say they appreciate no longer being involved in confrontations with customers over masking.
“My staff do not need that kind of stress and anxiety in their workplace,” Konkal said.
Many Ottawa residents say they continue to wear masks when shopping.
“Just because everyone else is, I wanted them to feel comfortable around me. It’s just out of consideration,” Eleanor Hunt said.
Others say they understand those who choose otherwise.
“Do not give me. To each. I have put on my mask so I am comfortable with myself,” added Chris Kramer.