All British Columbians over the age of 12 are required to wear a mask or face covering while visiting indoor public spaces or face a $230 fine, according to the details of a provincial mask mandate released Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve entered a second wave of COVID-19 in British Columbia and additional steps need to be taken to protect our health,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, in a statement.
“Last week, the PHO provided guidance that masks should be worn in all indoor public places. This new order under the EPA will ensure we have the tools necessary to enforce the mask mandate as recommended by the PHO.”
Under the Emergency Program Act (EPA), which applies for as long as BC remains under a state of emergency, masks are officially required to be worn by everyone over the age of 12 in many indoor public settings.
Some examples of 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
- places of public worship
- on public transportation, in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle
- common areas of office buildings, court houses, hospitals and hotels
- common areas of sport and fitness centres when not engaged in physical activity
- common areas of post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations.
More orders are expected to be issued to mandate mask use in common areas of apartment buildings, condos and workplaces.
According to the statement, this first order only covers situations in which strangers often interact.
For the purposes of this order, people are required to wear a mask or face covering that is medical or non-medical and covers both the nose and mouth. Face shields do not count.
Anyone who cannot wear a mask for a psychological, behavioural or health condition, or due to a physical, cognitive or mental impairment is exempt from this order, as is anyone who requires someone else to help them put on a mask.
Masks are not recommended for children under two years old. For children between the ages of two and 12, mask use is recommended. Anyone above the age of 12 must wear a mask in the aforementioned settings.
This order does allow people to temporarily remove their face covering to provide identification, consume food or drinks at an establishment that offers dine-in, 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.
According to Farnworth, businesses are asked to review their COVID-19 safety plans to provide signage about the mandatory mask policy and let customers know about the new requirements.
“Of course, despite any range of efforts, some people will break the rules knowing full well what they’re doing,” the Minister added.
“These measures give police and other enforcement officials the tools to intervene with and penalize problematic individuals and groups.”
Anyone who does not comply with the new order, refuses to leave the space or responds with aggressive behaviour, even after being directed to follow the rules by an enforcement officer, could be subject to a $230 fine.
If violation tickets do not act as a deterrent, or in cases of particularly egregious contraventions or for repeat offenders, police can recommend charges in relation to the offence.
Those who wish to report non-compliance of this order can do so by calling their local government’s bylaw office.
Bylaw officers can then engage police or WorkSafeBC as required. Those who are unable to reach bylaw can contact their local police department using the non-emergency line.
This mandatory mask order takes effect immediately.