Sonya Perkins of Langley's Forever Yours Lingerie said there've been challenges, but customers are supporting local shops during the pandemic. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Langley businesses try to fine-tune mask policies for COVID surge

Some businesses are requiring masking by customers or staff in certain situations

At Langley’s Forever Yours Lingerie store, there’s a recommendation that customers wear masks if they’re browsing.

But that recommendation becomes a requirement if they’re in the fitting area, said owner Sonya Perkins.

“You can’t social distance when you’re fitting a bra,” she said.

Many local businesses are doing a balancing act, as the provincial requirement to wear masks in public places has been replaced by a recommendation, but businesses can still set their own rules.

For Forever Yours, that meant thinking about

At the federal and provincial level, new mandates are demanding vaccinations for seniors care aides, federal employees, and anyone travelling on a plane, train, or cruise ship between provinces.

Local businesses, operating on a much smaller scale, are now asking themselves whether or not to continue requiring masks, or even vaccines, from customers or staff.

The board of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce recently discussed what comes next, amid rising cases of the Delta variant.

The thing local businesses absolutely don’t want is more outright closures, said CEO Colleen Clark.

“That’s not going to work for anybody,” she said.

Vaccines and masks have to be the primary tools used to fight the coronavirus, she said.

When it comes to individual businesses and whether they require masks or even vaccinations from customers, that’s up to the business owner, Clark said.

“I mean, no shoes, no shirt, no service,” she said.

The local chamber’s opinions are widely shared by the business community. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business recently called for a “stay open” strategy in the face of the Delta variant, saying the government should concentrate on hospitalization rather than cases as a primary tool to measure how the fight against the virus is going.

The CFIB also recommended the use of testing and of proof of vaccination for travel and large events, if needed.

READ ALSO: Mandatory COVID vaccines for passengers on planes, trains, and cruise ships in Canada

READ ALSO: BC mandates COVID-19 vaccination for all long-term care, assisted living workers

Some companies rely on large numbers of customers at once, including Langley’s 19-screen Cineplex movie theatre.

The chain provided a statement when asked about vaccine mandates: “We follow guidelines set forth by all levels of government and, if or when a program is put in place, we will of course comply, as is the case in Quebec which announced a new program that will come into effect in the coming weeks.”

Quebec is requiring proof of vaccination as of Sept. 1 for admittance to public events, bars, gyms, and restaurants.

British Columbia has not given any sign of implementing a similar system, but Health Minister Adrian Dix has not explicity ruled out widening the scope of vaccination requirements.

The province’s Human Rights Tribunal recently issued a statement that outlined the human rights issues around imposing vaccination requirements.

It said that “duty bearers,” which includes employers and landlords “can in some circumstances implement a vaccination status policy such as a proof-of-vaccination requirement – but only if other less intrusive means of preventing COVID-19 transmission are inadequate for the setting and if due consideration is given to the human rights of everyone involved.”

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