While provincial mask mandates expired March 21, some Highlands public spaces will encourage patrons to mask up.

At a March 16 Haliburton County Public Library board meeting, CEO Christopher Stephenson explained he’ll encourage staff “to wear masks to protect each other.”

“We’ll also encourage with posters at the door, to have people reminded we’d love for them to wear their masks,” he said.

Masks will not be mandatory at library locations, but HCPL branches will continue to have free disposable masks available.

Warden Liz Danielsen said wearing a mask once the mandate is lifted is “a personal choice, we have to respect that.”


Coun. Cec Ryall said “you’re now getting to the point where people are exercising their right to do what they want to do.”

He added that while staff might be on the same page, enforcing mask-wearing among patrons could be difficult.

Stephenson said staff are “already at their wits end, for various reasons” and having to police patrons’ mask-wearing would be difficult and potentially distressing.

Stephenson added that the guidelines still allow for patrons and staff to go maskless. However, he said no guidance on staff mask-wearing could result in worsening a staff shortage already causing library closures.

“Then I might just get a series of leave of absences, then I’ll be having a hard time,” he said.

Staff currently work two at a time, in close quarters, behind clear desk partitions.

Health experts across Canada and abroad continue to promote mask-wearing as a preventive health measure.

“We know that masks are an effective and easy way to slow transmission of COVID19,” said Dr. Natalie Bocking, Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge’s chief medical officer of health at a media information session March 9.

“Let’s hope people treat each other with kindness and respect,” library board chairperson Sally Howson said.

Spring programming

In a report to the board, Stephenson said he expects library programming to resume in April, “if pandemic numbers continue to improve and community members are once again comfortable returning to public spaces.”

One event in the books is the Sept. 24 Bookapalooza 2022 scheduled in Minden Hills.

It’s an event with an aim to “further cultivate a culture of reading, writing and celebration of literary arts in the Haliburton Highlands.”

Friends sponsor books

The Friends of the Haliburton County Public Library donated the 2022 Evergreen Award-nominated books.

Ten books in contention for the award celebrating Canadian fiction and nonfiction are available at the library as eBooks, audiobooks and in text.

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