REGINA — Leaders campaigning barefaced became an issue in the Saskatchewan election Wednesday after photos were posted of the incumbent premier without a mask in a Regina store.
Photos of Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe looking for a new winter coat were recently shared on his official Twitter page ahead of Monday's vote.
The reaction on social media was swift, with users criticizing his maskless face at a time when COVID-19 cases in the province are on the rise.
Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer hasn't issued a mandate that requires masks be worn, but strongly recommends people wear them in indoor public spaces when they can't guarantee there will be enough space for physical distancing.
Dr. Saqib Shahab reiterated that advice on the same afternoon that the Moe shopping photos were taken.
During a campaign stop in Regina, Moe, who put on a mask when not speaking at the microphone, said he had been wearing the mask while inside the store and took it off when there was no one else around.
"Could have I been wearing a mask the entire time? I suppose I could have. I didn't," he said.
"I suppose after the media today I probably will reconsider that. But the fact of the matter is we've been very clear on our masking policy. And I've been following that masking policy."
As Moe faced questions about his mask use, the Saskatchewan Party issued a statement pointing out that NDP Leader Ryan Meili has also been photographed campaigning at businesses without a mask on and standing near employees.
"Any photos you have seen, we have taken extra measures to make sure physical distancing is possible," Meili said at a campaign event in Regina.
"I'm less concerned about a photo of the premier than the mixed messages we have had from him throughout when it comes to masking and, in particularly, the refusal to distance himself from the anti-mask protesters. "
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2020.