On Thursday afternoon, health officials in British Columbia issued a new order calling for the mandatory use of masks in retail and indoor public spaces.
The mandate, which was announced by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, is one of many new province-wide measures in place to fight COVID-19, as cases in BC remain high.
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Henry says that she consulted with both the public and retail sectors, who asked for more explicit directions on the use of masks, specifically to manage employee safety and address ongoing issues with customers.
According to the Government of BC website, employers are expected to enforce the mandatory mask policy with both employees and customers and they’ll be able to refuse entry or service to those that don’t wear a mask.
“I’ve asked the Minister of Public Safety and the Solicitor General to issue a requirement for the wearing of masks for all indoor public and retail spaces for staff and customers, except where eating or drinking,” Henry explains.
Indoor public settings and retail stores where masks are required are as follows:
- Malls and shopping centres
- Grocery stores
- Coffee shops
- Common areas in hotels
- Clothing stores
- Liquor stores
- Drug stores
- Community centres
- Recreation centres
- City Halls
- Restaurants and bars when not seated at a table
Patrons at restaurants will need to wear a mask while they’re not at their table, like when entering the restaurant, leaving the restaurant, and going into the restroom. Staff will also need masks while interacting with others, staff, and with tables.
The mandate also applies to common public areas in workplaces such as:
- Customer counters
- Break rooms
“If you are at work at your desk, you do not need to wear a mask,” says Henry. “But if you are in a shared workspace, a common space, or public space like elevators, hallways, and other common areas, you do.”
“If you are behind service counters and you have plexiglass between you and everyone else, you do not need to wear a mask unless there are others behind there with you.”
The order doesn’t apply to those that are unable to put on or remove the mask on their own. It also doesn’t apply to those under the age of two. The new measures came into effect on November 20 at midnight and continue until at least December 7.