If you're planning to go shopping or head to an indoor public space, remember to bring a mask or you could be fined under the new provincial health order (PHO).
B.C.'s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced that anyone found not wearing a mask or refusing to comply with enforcement officers in a retail shop or indoor public space -- including not leaving the space or responding with aggressive behaviour -- may be fined up to $230.
The new enforcement measures come into effect immediately for people not complying with the province-wide mandatory mask order.
"We've entered a second wave of COVID-19 in British Columbia, and additional steps need to be taken to protect our health," said Farnworth in a statement.
He added that education is important during this time and businesses are asked to review their plans and to get the message out to communities in "several languages."
"Businesses should provide signage on the mandatory mask policy and inform customers about the requirement."
Despite various efforts, Farnworth noted that "some people will break the rules knowing full well what they're doing."
As a result, these measures will "give police and other enforcement officials the tools to intervene with and penalize problematic individuals and groups."
The mask order applies to all British Columbians, 12 years and older, in many indoor public settings including:
- malls, shopping centres, coffee shops, and retail and grocery stores
- liquor and drug stores
- airports, city halls, libraries, community and recreation centres
- restaurants, pubs and bars
- places of public worship
- on public transportation, in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle
- common areas of office buildings, court houses, hospitals and hotels
- common areas of sport and fitness centres when not engaged in physical activity
- common areas of post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations
People who cannot wear a mask or who cannot put on or remove a mask without the assistance of others are still exempt, he added.
Masks can be removed temporarily when individuals are in a place designated for consuming food or beverages, receiving personal or health service, or required to identify themselves in an indoor public space.