BC is dropping its mask mandate and will soon no longer force businesses to ask for the BC Vaccine Card upon entry.
The announcement was made by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix on Thursday afternoon.
The mask mandate will be lifted as of Friday, March 11 at 12:01 am, while the BC Vaccine Card will still be around for a few more weeks, scheduled to be lifted on April 8 at 12:01 am. The BC Vaccine Card was previously set to expire on June 30.
While these two layers of protection against COVID-19 will no longer be enforced, businesses, events, and gatherings can still implement these tools if they choose to do so.
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BC has had the mask mandate in place since last summer. It was temporarily rescinded as BC entered step three of its restart plan in June. However, after a resurgence of cases, BC reintroduced the mandate in August.
Businesses will also be provided guidance to shift away from the COVID-19 safety plans they’ve had to implement to what BC is calling the “communicable disease plan.”
Capacity limits that were placed on faith-based institutions will also be lifted as of March 11 at 12:01 am.
The fall respiratory season is still a concern for BC health officials, and they will be increasing virus surveillance when it arrives.
Henry didn’t rule out the possibility that mandates could make a return.
“We have to be ready to bring some tools back if necessary.”
She also acknowledged that some of these changes could make some people “feel very uncomfortable,” but added that she feels confident about the decisions that are being made.
Among the various tools they’ll be using this fall, there will be a focus on facility-based monitoring in acute and long-term care. There will also be a systematic and early warning signal through expanding BC’s wastewater sampling and monitoring of healthcare visits.
Health officials will also be doing targeted serological surveillance and lab-based genetic sequencing.
As we’ve become familiar with over the past two years, Henry again repeated to wash your hands, to stay home if you’re sick, to get vaccinated, but also to respect other people’s comfort levels.
She signed off by reminding BC to be compassionate and kind.