Mask mandate to reduce transmission, protect people in public spaces
As of Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces throughout B.C. to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 as B.C. prepares for the fall and respiratory illness season.
A new order from the provincial health officer will require people 12 and older to wear masks in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
These settings include:
- 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; and
- inside schools for all K-12 staff, visitors and students in grades 4-12.
This temporary order will be reassessed as the B.C. vaccine card requirement is fully implemented in certain social and recreational settings, as announced on Aug. 23.
“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.”
For the purposes of this 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, as there is an opening below the mouth.
“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. Now more than ever, we need to follow the advice and orders of the provincial health officer.”
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 may be removed temporarily in indoor public places to identify the individual wearing the mask, 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.
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.