Dear Fiesta community,

We’ve had our mandatory mask policy in place for about a week and think it’s worth stating publicly what we’ve now had to address privately on multiple occasions.

Masks hit a particular nerve for some people.

We hate the masks too. They’re antithetical to everything Fiesta stands for. For many, we’re a kind of community centre where people socialize, learn, relax, and mix with people they don’t usually meet through a shared experience.

Physical distancing was a challenge.

Masks that cover smiles are devastating.

We believe that sometimes people do things they hate on a personal level for the benefit of a group.

Or even the perceived benefit.

Or even the chance of benefit.

Masks affect our business. They hurt morale–who wants to go to work and put on a mask? And they remove the soul of the store–friendly faces.

We’re using masks and maintaining our mask mandate because days of research into the recommendations of local and global health officials tell us that there is a small likelihood that masks reduce an asymptomatic or unaware carrier’s chances of spreading COVID-19.

While they’re all careful to remind us that masks are a supplement to physical distancing, handwashing, and disinfection measures, all we can turn up are bodies that recommend them.

Here are links to a few:

Here are collated common questions and comments so we can avoid repeating ourselves.

Health Canada does not say it is mandatory. 

That’s true. But only children need to be mandated to take health advice.

For example, Health Canada recommends eating more fruits and vegetables. It’s a work in progress (especially broccoli), but we’re trying, even without a mandate. They also don’t mandate physical activity. But their recommendations look reasonable enough.

We’re glad they’re not forcing us to do those things because human nature would probably make us want to do them less :).

But most importantly, what’s the harm?

If we can bear adding this measure to the long list of shifts we’ve had to implement, why can’t a visitor just obey the house rules for a one-hour shop each week?

When we visit people’s houses who ask us to take off our shoes we just do it. Civil society obeys rules, guidelines and social mores everywhere we go. Why does this one rankle?

Anyway, here’s what Health Canada recommends:

How to protect others

The best thing you can do to prevent spreading COVID-19 is to wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. If none is available, use hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol base.

To protect others, you should also:

  • stay at home
  • maintain a 2-metre physical distance from others
    • when physical distancing cannot be maintained, consider wearing a non-medical mask or homemade face covering
  • avoid touching your face, mouth, nose or eyes

Wearing a homemade facial covering/non-medical mask in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it and is not a substitute for physical distancing and hand washing.

However, it can be an additional measure taken to protect others around you, even if you have no symptoms. It can be useful for short periods of time, when physical distancing is not possible in public settings, such as when grocery shopping or using public transit.

Did you notice they mentioned grocery stores? We bolded it for you.

Health Canada literally used our industry as an example of the kind of situation in which physical distancing could be challenging and a non-medical home-made or cloth mask could offer an additional level of protection.

Can you not just leave this up to a matter of individual choice? 

Well, we did that for a while.

The trouble with this approach is that many carriers are asymptomatic.

And even people who will develop symptoms can spread it for days before they feel sick.

Whatever tiny efficacy non-surgical masks have demonstrated so far seems to reduce the wearer’s ability to spread COVID-19 by reducing the number of droplets they spray when they talk–please continue to cough and sneeze into your “sneev” (elbow crook) even if you’re wearing a mask.

Meaning you don’t wear it to protect yourself. You wear it to protect others from you.

Which is kind of a nice sentiment 🤓.

But it also means that if we let you choose not to wear one and you’re an asymptomatic spreader, then all those people who chose to wear a mask because they were trying to protect you, a stranger, in our aisles, are at risk.

Does that seem fair to you? That sucks. Let’s protect people who think of others.

I guess sometimes you need to help people make choices that benefit the community.

There is no conclusive evidence that face-masks actually help in non-medical situations. 

That’s true. But a bit like the mandatory point, we’re willing to go with recommendations from professionals on this one.

For example, in the “Cloth Face Covers FAQ, under the question, “When do you need to wear a cloth face covering” the CDC says:

A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people are in a community setting, especially in situations where you may be near people. These settings include grocery stores and pharmacies. These face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing. Cloth face coverings are especially important to wear in public in areas of widespread COVID-19 illness.

Did you notice they mentioned grocery stores? We bolded it for you.

The world’s leading medical schools agree:

Johns Hopkins Medical University says:

The general public: The virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity — for example via speaking, coughing, or sneezing — even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this evidence, wearing a cloth face mask or covering in public places where social distancing can’t be observed will help reduce spread of the disease. For example, in a grocery store or on a bus, if you wear a face mask, you help protect those around you in case you cough or sneeze.

Did you notice they mentioned grocery stores? We bolded it for you.

Harvard Medical School’s Coronavirus Resource Center responds to the question “How soon after I’m infected with the new coronavirus will I start to be contagious?” with:

We know that a person with COVID-19 may be contagious 48 to 72 hours before starting to experience symptoms. Emerging research suggests that people may actually be most likely to spread the virus to others during the 48 hours before they start to experience symptoms.

If true, this strengthens the case for face masks, physical distancing, and contact tracing, all of which can help reduce the risk that someone who is infected but not yet contagious may unknowingly infect others.


Your staff is wearing masks and anyone who is worried – can wear a mask – we do not all have to wear masks.


As hopefully communicated above:

  • We’re trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to staff, customers, and community.
  • We’re following the recommendations of the most credible health, professional, institutional and medical bodies.
  • They universally agree that non0medical grade masks, while they don’t do much, are worth wearing to help reduce the inadvertent spread of COVID-19 by people who have contracted it in the last 5 days but aren’t showing symptoms.


We understand that it’s possible that humanity might benefit from letting COVID-19 run unchecked in the hopes that it mutates into a more mild strain in the evolutionary interest of its own survival.

We agree that this virus will be around in some capacity until a vaccine is made available.

We just don’t want to be a vector for infection.

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