Health officials in British Columbia say that the province-wide mandate surrounding indoor mask usage will be lifted starting July 1.
The announcement was made on Tuesday afternoon as the provincial government shared details regarding Step 3 of its COVID-19 restart plan.
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One of the biggest changes is that BC will be lifting its health order calling for the mandatory use of masks in retail and indoor public spaces. The measure was introduced in November of 2020 amid a rise of COVID-19 cases.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stressed, however, that mask usage is still important and will be recommended for residents of BC.
“Mask wearing will be recommended in all indoor public spaces for all people 12 and over who are not yet fully immunized,” she explained during a press conference.
“That means it is important for us to continue to wear masks in those indoor settings when we’re around people that we don’t know and where we have not yet been fully protected.”
Henry said that many people in the province may also choose to continue wearing masks for personal reasons.
“Some people may also continue to choose to wear masks, and that’s okay. We need to remember we all need to go at our own pace and there are some reasons why we may feel more at risk or it may be important to continue to protect ourselves using masks.”
When BC enters Step 3 of its COVID-19 restart plan on July 1, the Face Coverings Order under the Emergency Programs Act will be lifted and no proof of vaccination will be needed.