B.C.’s mask mandate is now backed by provincial enforcement, which means if British Columbians don’t follow the new rule they can be fined $230.
Last week, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry rolled out a new health order declaring that non-medical masks must be worn while inside indoor public spaces – including retail spaces. On Tuesday (Nov. 24), Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced the mandate also is now part of the Emergency Program Act.
Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older, in many indoor public settings. Face shields or other coverings will not suffice under these new rules.
“Working with public health officials, Emergency Management BC anticipates issuing further orders to enforce requirements for masks in common areas of apartment buildings, condos and workplaces,” a statement from the ministry reads.
“This first order covers the high-traffic public settings where people who do not know each other often interact.”
Anyone without a mask in an indoor public place or who refuses to comply with the direction of an enforcement officer, including the direction to leave the space, may be subject to a $230 fine.
Under the current provincial laws, local bylaw officers, police and other provincial compliance enforcement officers have the power to issue this fine. If violation tickets don’t act as a deterrent against a repeat offender, police can also recommend charges to Crown.
In recent days, several business owners have reported incidents where customers refuse to abide by the rules, in some cases leading to response by police.
“Education is key, which is why we’re having businesses review their plans and getting the word out to communities in several languages,” Farnworth said.
“Businesses should provide signage on the mandatory mask policy and inform customers about the requirement. Of course, despite any range of efforts, some people will break the rules knowing full well what they’re doing. These measures give police and other enforcement officials the tools to intervene with and penalize problematic individuals and groups.”
Those who cannot wear a mask due to a physical or cognitive impairment are exempt from the mandate.
The public safety update comes as B.C. recorded 695 new infections on Tuesday, as well as 10 more deaths.
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