Masks are back.
Less than two months after removing the requirement, the B.C. government on Tuesday announced it will once again require people to wear masks in public, indoor spaces throughout the province to combat the fourth wave of COVID-19.
The mask mandate comes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021 in B.C.’s attempt to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 as B.C. prepares for the fall and respiratory illness season.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the surprise announcement while the province was outlining rules for the return to school at both post-secondary and K-to-12 system.
“This is to address those situations where we are with people who may not have been vaccinated,” Henry said.
“This temporary order will be re-assessed as the vaccine card is reassessed.”
This will include malls, shopping, grocery, libraries, community centres, pubs and bars as well as in workplaces where people interact with larger parts of the public.
“As transmission of COVID-19 increases in B.C., primarily among unvaccinated people and in part due to the Delta variant, it’s important to take this extra temporary step to make indoor public spaces safer for everyone,” Henry said.
“We need to continue doing the things that protect us, including wearing masks in indoor, public areas, practising hand hygiene regularly, staying away if we are sick and keeping a respectful distance from people. And most important of all, every person should get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community.”
For the purposes of this provincial order, a mask or face covering is defined as a medical or non-medical mask that covers the nose and mouth.
Face shields are not a substitute for a mask.
People who cannot wear a mask or who cannot put on or remove a mask without the assistance of others are exempt.
A person may not be able to wear a mask for a psychological, behavioural or health condition, or due to a physical, cognitive or mental impairment.
Masks are not recommended for children under the age of two, but should be encouraged for children aged two to 12 in public settings.
Children older than 12 must wear a mask in a public indoor space, unless they are exempt.
“As unvaccinated people continue to get sick and hospitalized with COVID-19, we’re taking another step to ensure we overcome COVID-19 together, and that we move forward together,” Health minister Adrian Dix said.
“Our pandemic has always been about making good choices with the information we have and making the best choices to keep people safe. Now more than ever, we need to follow the advice and orders of the provincial health officer.”
Full list of settings included in mask mandate:
- malls, shopping centres, coffee shops and retail and grocery stores
- liquor and drug stores
- airports, city halls, libraries, community and recreation centres
- restaurants, pubs and bars (unless seated)
- on public transportation, in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle
- areas of office buildings where services to the public are provided
- common areas of sport and fitness centres when not engaged in physical activity
- common areas of post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations
- inside schools for all K-12 staff, visitors and students in grades 4-12
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