British Columbia

Provincial health officer 'expects' British Columbians to be wearing masks

There may not be a law forcing British Columbians to wear masks indoors, but Dr. Bonnie Henry doesn't want that to be an excuse for not wearing one, especially when physical distancing isn't possible.

Dr. Bonnie Henry not looking to mandate masks just yet

A man wears a face mask as he walks past a restaurant patio on Vancouver's Granville Street in May. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

There may not be a law forcing British Columbians to wear masks indoors, but Dr. Bonnie Henry doesn't want that to be an excuse for not wearing one, especially when physical distancing isn't possible.

"I do wear a mask myself and I encourage, and I recommend, strongly, that others do as well," the province's medical officer said during Tuesday's COVID-19 briefing.

Henry says the province has stopped short of mandating the use of masks out of concern for those who would have difficulty wearing one.

 "There are some people for whom mask wearing is not a viable option," she said. "(Such as) anyone for whom it is difficult to take it on on themselves, young children, people with disabilities, it can very much a challenge."

On Tuesday, Toronto City Council approved a temporary bylaw to enforce the use of face masks and coverings for indoor public spaces in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Henry said while the number of COVID-19 cases in B.C. doesn't warrant a similar law, it may be needed in the future.

"We may, during the respiratory season, with a surge, we may require people to wear masks in some indoor situations," said Henry. "If we start to see much more transmission in our communities."

For now, she wants British Columbians to have a mask with them when they leave the house and expects to see people wearing them on transit, in small grocery stores and anywhere physical distancing is difficult or not possible.

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