B.C. announces fines to back up mask mandate

Spike leads to new fines

British Columbia health officials are reporting a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases, while they order a pause indoor physical activities.

The latest peak in numbers comes as health officials ordered dance studios, yoga studios and other indoor physical activity spaces to suspend operations as new guidance is developed.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth extended the province's state of emergency until Dec. 8 and laid out enforcement measures for wearing masks in B.C.

People 12 years and older are required to wear masks in indoor settings, ranging from malls to public transportation, and failure to do so can result in a $230 fine.

People who cannot wear a mask, or who cannot put on or remove a mask without the assistance of others, are exempt from the new order.

The detailed guidelines come as the union representing British Columbia teachers called on parents to support a "culture" of wearing masks as it continues to push for a mandatory mask policy in schools.

Teri Mooring, the head of the BC Teachers' Federation, said in an open letter to parents that the union is looking for help in implementing and following mask-wearing protocols.

The federation has repeatedly called on provincial health officials to make masks mandatory in schools.

Mooring said some schools have already taken the step to make mask wearing normal and expected and it helps everyone to make schools feel safer.

Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that schools have specific COVID-19 safety plans and are exempt from the new mandatory mask requirements set out last week.

Henry told a news conference Monday that students are in schools with a group of people they see day-to-day, unlike businesses where people interact with others they don't know, necessitating wearing a mask.

She said she supports mask wearing in common areas and among adults at schools.

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