FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

B.C. will now require masks in public indoor and retail spaces, following months of calls for such a mandate.

The announcement was one of a series of new measures announced by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday (Nov. 19) following record-breaking cases and deaths B.C. in recent days.

Many retailers and businesses have voiced their frustration with earlier iterations that amounted to recommendations and expectation for the public, but left it up to individual businesses to sort out details and enforcement. Henry said the new mandate will give businesses government support in enforcing mask rules.

Masks will be required for both customers and employees in indoor retail and public spaces in all parts of the province, except for when eating or drinking in a designated food service area. They will also be mandatory in workplaces and hotels for public areas like corridors and elevators, but not in schools.

As to why schools are exempt from Thursday’s rules on mask wearing, Henry said they “are not public open spaces.” Masks are mandatory in high traffic areas within middle and high schools.

“We don’t expect children to wear masks sitting at their desks all day long,” she said. Older students in Ontario and some Quebec schools are required to wear masks while in their classrooms.

In a social media post, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation stated its displeasure with the lack of a full mask mandate for schools.

“The Provincial Health Office has chosen not to mandate masks in #bced (sic) schools even as they make them mandatory in other public spaces. We continue to say to teachers, wear masks. Work with your colleagues to create a culture of mask wearing. Model it in your classes,” the union said.

“Many #bced (sic) schools have full mask policies because the staff, health and safety committee, or administrator made it happen.”

Retail and other employees standing behind plexiglass can take off their masks as long as there is only staff member there. People must wear masks in restaurants unless they are seated at their table. Those unable to wear a mask for a medical or disability related reason are exempt, and Henry cautioned that not all people’s conditions will be visible.

According to health officials, contact tracers have not been seeing transmission between people in public spaces such as grocery stores, which officials suggest is due to so many wearing masks voluntarily.

“It’s become apparent that this surge is happening across the province,” Henry said.

“We all need to focus our efforts on stopping the spread and bending the curve back down.”

Provinces like Ontario and Saskatchewan have already brought in similar mask mandates.

READ MORE: B.C. extends private gathering ban province-wide

READ MORE: 538 new infections, 1 death recorded as B.C. struggles with 50+ COVID outbreaks


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A case of COVID-19 has been confirmed by Interior Health at Rutland Senior Secondary Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Case of COVID-19 confirmed at Rutland Senior Secondary

Interior Health lists possible exposure dates as Nov. 23-25, 27

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
First Nations Leadership Council demands justice for victims of Kelowna social worker

Union of BC Indian Chiefs calls actions of Robert Saunders nothing short of ‘complete depravity’

(City of West Kelowna)
Large West Kelowna housing development back on the table

Council considering rezoning to accommodate 184 housing units, project hopes for ~933 by completion

Kelowna videographer Noah van der Eerden details why he thinks Kelowna is the best city in his video. (Noah van der Eerden - YouTube)
Videographer shows off Kelowna’s beautiful sights in heartfelt video

Noah van der Eerden moved to Kelowna from Vancouver two years ago

Children wait using physical distancing after getting their pictures taken at picture day at St. Barnabas Catholic School during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Update: COVID-19 cases confirmed at more Kelowna schools

Interior Health announced a case has been confirmed at Chute Lake Elementary

A snow moon rises over Mt. Cheam in Chilliwack on Feb. 8, 2020. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 is Mountain Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

Courtesy of the World Health Organization
UBCO researchers interview caregivers for rural adults’ mental health concern

The researchers are looking for participants who live or have relatives in rural communities

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that's ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov | AFP)
WEB POLL: Will you take a vaccine for COVID-19?

Doses are expected to arrive in the new year

Travis Hirlaka, Vernon
PHOTOS: Sunrise paints Okanagan skies

Residents in the Okanagan captured stunning shots of a colourful start to Saturday

Staff and students at Vernon’s Fulton Secondary School were evacuated due to an electrical short that sent one person to hospital Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Vernon high school evacuated, one person injured by electrical short

Incident at Clarence Fulton Secondary forced brief evacuation Friday afternoon

Two Canadian petitions are asking to have elected officials removed from office. (Pixabay.com)
COLUMN: Petitions show loss of faith in democratic process

Online petitions from third-party sources have taken aim at elected officials in Canada

Chinook salmon spawning in the Fraser River near Tete Jeune Cache. ((Shane Kalyn photo, property of the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance)
North-Okanagan Shuswap MP petitions government to reform salmon management

Mel Arnold tables petition to allow more angler access to non-threatened Fraser River chinook salmon

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Shuswap Cider Company has applied for a licence that would accommodate a cider manufacturing facility, a tasting room and patio/lounge area at Westgate Market in Salmon Arm. (File photo)
Cider manufacturing facilty, tasting room and patio proposed for Salmon Arm

Council asked to raise a virtual glass to a licence for a cidery and amenities in Westgate Mall

Most Read