B.C.'s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has leveraged the Emergency Act to mandate all staff and customers wear masks at indoor retail outlets.
The measure includes all corridors, elevators and common areas; however, it does not apply to food service areas or when someone is eating or drinking.
Henry said she contacted the Ministry of Public Safety and the Solicitor General Wednesday to roll out the order after consulting with retail and business associations. The Retail Association of Canada had urged B.C. health authorities to institute a mandatory mask policy the same day.
The new mandatory measure is a departure from Henry’s previous approach, which has emphasized strong recommendations to convince the public to comply with wearing masks in indoor public spaces.
The order is part of a number of sweeping measures announced Thursday, Nov. 19 — which extend restrictions on travel, social and group gatherings, as well as indoor group fitness — from the Lower Mainland to all of B.C. until Dec. 7.
Basic protection measures still need to be followed, added Henry in a call with reporters, including staying home when your are sick, washing hands regularly and maintaining social distance whenever possible with people outside of your household.
What counts as a public indoor setting?
Dr. Henry’s new order includes the following retail locations:
- Malls, 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
At work, masks are required in shared work areas and areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained. This includes:
- Customer counters
- Break rooms
- Meeting rooms with more than four people