Mask mandate returns to B.C.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic on Aug. 12. || B.C. government photo
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A provincial mask mandate will return to B.C., starting tomorrow (Aug. 24).

A new temporary order from the provincial health officer will require people 12 and older to wear masks in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status. 

The order will be reassessed as the B.C. vaccine card requirement is fully implemented, according to the province. 

A mask or face covering is defined by the province as a medical or non-medical mask that covers the nose and mouth — face shields are not a substitute for a mask, as there is an opening below the mouth.

“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,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. “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.”

People who cannot wear a mask or who cannot put on or remove one 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, the province said.

“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,” said Adrian Dix, minister of health. “Our pandemic has always been about making good choices with the information we have and making the best choices to keep people safe.”

Masks may be removed temporarily in indoor public places to identify individuals, to consume food or beverage at a location designated for this purpose, while participating in a sport or fitness activity in a sport facility or while receiving a personal or health service that requires the mask to be removed.

The province does not recommend masks for children under the age of two, but encourages wearing them for children aged two to 12 in public settings.

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