Amidst a rise in cases, particularly among unvaccinated individuals, the province has announced a return of a mandatory mask mandate.
The news came as government officials laid out plans for a return to school this fall. Dr. Bonnie Henry took to the podium partway through a press conference to say that masks would be required in most indoor settings for adults 12 and over.
“Today, I am announcing we are reintroducing a mask requirement across British Columbia for all indoor public spaces,” said Dr. Henry.
“This measure is needed to ensure that these indoor settings are as safe as they can be for all of us as we head into the fall and we spend more time in activities, whether it’s school or other activities, indoors.”
The measure calls for mandatory masks to be worn in places including grocery stores, malls, retail businesses, libraries, rec centres, public transit and taxis. It is set to take effect on Wednesday, August 25.
Similar to an earlier health order on mandatory masks, patrons at restaurants or pubs can remove their masks when seated at a table, but must wear them when moving around these spaces.
Common areas in places like office buildings, sports or fitness centres, and schools or learning facilities, will also have mandatory mask requirements.
Limited exemptions for masks will be allowed for those who physically cannot put on or remove a mask without the assistance of others.
The province also says that people may not be able to wear masks due to psychological, behavioural or health conditions, or due to a physical, cognitive or mental impairment.
Masks can also be temporarily removed for purposes of facial identification or for the consumption of food or beverage.
“This temporary order will be reassessed as the BC vaccine card requirement is fully implemented in certain social and recreational settings, as we announced yesterday,” said Dr. Henry.
“We need to continue to do those things that keep us safe, and one of those is wearing masks in these indoor settings, as rates of transmission in our communities have crept upwards.”