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Mandatory masks not coming to B.C. amid rising COVID-19 cases

Last Updated Nov 12, 2020 at 11:27 pm PDT

FILE - Packages of face masks. (CITYNEWS/Tony Fera)

Dr. Bonnie Henry reiterated Thursday that she has no plans to issue a public health order mandating masks

Henry emphasized that businesses can -- and should -- require masks as part of their safety plans

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — With new restrictions in effect in Metro Vancouver, and record numbers of COVID-19 cases in B.C. there is no plan to make masks mandatory, according to the province’s top doctor.

Dr. Bonnie Henry reiterated Thursday that she has no plans to issue a public health order requiring people to cover their faces indoors.

“Mandating masks is not something that is going to change some people’s minds. We know that most people will do the right thing when they understand the rationale behind it and we’re seeing that,” she said.

Other provincial authorities have made the move. In Quebec, masks are required province-wide. In Manitoba, the province issued an order making them mandatory in Winnipeg. Cities like Toronto and Calgary have passed bylaws, however, Vancouver recently voted against a motion to make masks mandatory in civic facilities.

Henry explained that individual businesses have the authority to tell people to mask up.

Walmart and Starbucks, for example, have mask requirements Canada-wide. In the Lower Mainland, they’re obligatory on TransLink.

“I will say that businesses can say ‘In my business, people need to wear a mask to come in here, and staff need to wear a mask to come in here’ and if people don’t want to do that, then you need to accommodate them by allowing them to order online, by giving them other options. I would encourage particularly some of the larger businesses — this needs to be part of your safety protocols — and that’s more enforceable than my telling people it’s an order,” Henry noted.

“I will say it’s the expectation that when you’re in an indoor public place, you wear a mask,” she said.

“This is really important as we’re moving into this season that we continue to pay attention to that, to wear masks in indoor public spaces.”