Masks should be worn inside all public spaces, B.C. health officials say
VANCOUVER -- Non-medical masks are now recommended in every indoor public space in British Columbia, health officials said Monday as the province's COVID-19 caseload surged to a new record high.
While the updated mask guidelines are not part of a public health order, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she expects the public to oblige as part of their "mutual responsibilities to protect ourselves and to protect each other."
"It is now the expectation that people will wear a non-medical mask in public spaces," Henry said. "Now is the time for all of us to work together, while staying apart, to slow the spread of COVID-19 – and together we will get through this winter."
The new order applies to everything from grocery stores to shopping malls to ICBC locations, Henry said, but not to public spaces that are outside.
"My mask expectations are for indoors spaces. We do know that the risk is still minimal outdoors," she said.
The provincial health officer also acknowledged that some people can't wear masks, and urged everyone to "be accepting of that" while suggesting those individuals try to go out when places aren't crowded.
The mask recommendation was announced alongside a new public health order limiting the number of guests allowed in private homes to six, and followed a weekend that saw multiple COVID-19 case records broken in B.C.
The province recorded 317 new cases over a single day, shattering the previous daily record of 274, and the active caseload reached a new high of 2,335 cases.
Henry blamed much of the surge on private gatherings, including family Thanksgiving events, and indicated there's no sign of slowing down. She also suggested that battling COVID-19 will be even more challenging in the months ahead.
"We are also learning that it transmits more easily in the winter months, so we need to take additional precautions," Henry said.