Health-care workers in Newfoundland and Labrador are no longer required to wear masks as a COVID-19 precaution in some scenarios, but the unions that represent them say that doesn’t mean they can’t.
The province’s health authority sent a memo to staff on Friday following the lead of the Department of Health. Masks will still be worn in certain situations, like when working with COVID-19 positive patients or when a respiratory swab is pending, but staff are being asked to self-assess their risk of illness to determine if they need to wear a mask.
Yvette Coffey, president of the Registered Nurses’ Union of Newfoundland and Labrador, says she’s confident following the advice of the department.
“Coming from, you know, infection prevention … we always say that people should follow through their risk assessments,” Coffey told CBC News Monday. “I am hearing that there’s mixed reactions out there, but that most people are wearing masks after they do their risk assessments.”
Jerry Earle, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE), represents about 10,000 workers in the health-care system. He also supports the decision, saying he’s heard from members about how long the mask mandate had been ongoing.
“Health-care providers right across the province have been wearing these from the time they step in the door to the time they leave 12-hour shifts, extended shifts,” Earle said.
“So yeah, some of those [providers] are basically saying ‘Yeah, it’s probably time now that we be able to not wear them,’ but recognizing that they still have the