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B.C. extends indoor mask mandate indefinitely as COVID-19 transmission remains high

Vancouver -

British Columbia's indoor mask mandate will not expire on Oct. 31 as previously planned, the province announced Friday.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has extended her order requiring masks to be worn in all indoor public spaces throughout B.C.

The province's original mask mandate ended over the summer as cases were declining, but Henry reinstated the requirement - first in Interior Health and later provincewide - as the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus swept through the province.

"The requirement to wear masks in indoor public spaces is being extended during this time of higher transmission of COVID-19 in communities," said Henry in a news release.

"This important layer of protection will help make all of us safer, along with practising hand hygiene regularly, staying away if sick and, most importantly, getting fully vaccinated."

Friday's extension did not come with an end date, though the text of the extended order has not yet been published on the provincial government's website

Speaking to reporters Friday afternoon, Health Minister Adrian Dix confirmed the extension is indefinite, something he characterized as unsurprising.

"The mask mandate has been extended indefinitely so we won't need to keep renewing it," Dix said. "It's simply in place now. At some point in the future, it may be removed, but there's no date on that."

The existing order requires all people ages five and older to wear masks in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.

Masks may be removed indoors in the following circumstances, according to the province:

  • To identify the individual wearing the mask;
  • To consume food or beverage at a location designated for this purpose;
  • While participating in a sport or fitness activity in a sport facility;
  • While receiving a personal or health service that requires the mask to be removed.

"People who cannot wear a mask or who cannot put on or remove a mask without the assistance of others are exempt," the Ministry of Health said in the release.

"A person may not be able to wear a mask for a psychological, behavioural or health condition or due to a physical, cognitive or mental impairment."

B.C. health officials announced 584 new COVID-19 infections on Friday, and the province has seen an average of 575 new cases per day over the last seven days. 

Hospitalizations have also been rising, with 436 people in hospital for COVID-19 as of Friday, 156 of them in intensive care. Top Stories

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