While there have been rumours that it was coming, the BC government confirmed the return of masks in all health-care settings starting Tuesday, October 3rd.
This mask mandate will include visitors and volunteers in all patient and resident care areas as well as for health-care workers and contractors.
Patients, clients, and residents’ regulations are slightly different—they will only be required to mask when directed by a health-care worker or based on personal choice.
Additionally, for long-term care and assisted living settings, medical masks will not be required when you’re visiting a resident in their room or in an assisted living unit.
“An increase in hospital visits with the fall respiratory illness season requires measures to ensure our acute care is effective and our health-care system is strong, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.
According to the release, ambassadors will once again be stationed at entrances of health-care settings to screen for symptoms of any viral respiratory illness.
They will also provide masks and to direct people to wash their hands or use the hand sanitizer dispensers based at all of the entrances.
Hospitals have already reported an increase in cases of COVID and the flu, and health officials have advised that everyone six months and older get both as soon as they’re made available.
“We are starting to see increasing respiratory virus infections in BC, including COVID-19, and now is the time to remember the healthy habits we can all do to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer.
“That includes covering your cough, cleaning your hands regularly, staying away from others if you have a cough or a fever, wearing masks if you have lingering symptoms or need extra protection and getting the updated COVID-19 and influenza vaccines.”
Invitation for immunization appointments for at-risk individuals such as seniors 65 and older, residents in long-term care facilities, Indigenous peoples, pregnant people and those with chronic health conditions (e.g., cancer, HIV, hepatitis C, diabetes), as well as health-care workers will roll out at the beginning of October.
For everyone else, the invitations will begin on October 10th and you’ll be able to choose to get your flu shot at the same time as your COVID booster, if desired.
Vaccines will continue to be free and provided at many participating pharmacies, health-authority clinics, and some primary-care providers’ offices throughout the province.
To learn how to get vaccinated this fall, visit the BC government website.