Face masks are now mandatory in all indoor public and retail spaces in B.C., according to Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. The order applies to both employees and customers and the only exception will be when people are eating or drinking in places such as restaurants.
“Businesses that are not compliant will be fined or closed as necessary,” said Henry.
The government will increase active inspections of workplaces. Henry said she created a rapid response task-force of regional environmental health officers to close businesses that are not compliant.
“The use of the Emergency Act will enable us to cover that overlap of workplace, health and safety and public safety issues,” said Henry. She said she asked the minster of public safety and the solicitor general to put the requirement in effect.
The mask order is part of new province-wide COVID-19 restrictions, including the suspension of all community based social gatherings, in-person religious services and many indoor fitness activities. Henry added events such as AA meetings, after school programs and child-care in church settings are still permitted.
The new rules will last until at least Dec. 7, but could be extended, according to Henry.
Premier John Horgan banned non-essential travel in B.C. Nov. 18.
“We need to take action now around the province,” she said.
Baptisms, weddings and funerals can still happen, but with no receptions or celebrations and a maximum of 10 people attending. Hot yoga, high intensity interval training (HIIT) and indoor spin classes are prohibited, but other indoor fitness classes can still continue with enhanced guidelines, Henry said.
Sporting events can continue without spectators, but teams cannot travel outside their local area, she said.
“It is okay to go outside for a walk with a friend. It is okay to make sure your grandparents pick up the kids at school, or to fix the furnace at your mother’s house,” said Henry, adding the restrictions are aimed at preventing gatherings.