Masks will once again be required in BC healthcare settings

Masking returns to hospitals

UPDATE: 1:50 p.m.

With mandatory masking returning to B.C. healthcare facilities, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says it's a relatively unobtrusive measure that will protect those most at risk.

Thursday, Dr. Henry announced that as of Oct. 3, all staff, volunteers and visitors to B.C. hospitals, long-term care homes, assisted living facilities and other provincial healthcare settings will be required to wear medical masks, as the province enters into respiratory virus season.

“I think most people are reasonable, they understand that when you go to a healthcare setting, that's where people are most at risk,” she said. “We have ambassadors who will be there to make sure you have access to a mask, and that you wear it appropriately in those settings.

“It is important in the healthcare setting and I appeal to our better natures. We know that this is a relatively non-invasive, unobtrusive thing that is an important measure in healthcare settings and I encourage everybody to take that point of view and to make sure that you're doing your part.”

Patients in healthcare facilities and residents of care homes are not included in this new requirement though.

“Residents in long-term care, that's their home, and many people have issues, so we wouldn't expect them to wear a mask all the time in their home,” Dr. Henry said.

“For patients in healthcare settings, if you come in with a respiratory infection, you'll be asked to put a mask on for sure, and we do that always, but there are reasons why people, because of the health reason that they're seeking care for, might not be able to wear a mask.

“In terms and residents and patients, it really is dependant on their own clinical condition.”

UPDATE: 12:40 p.m.

Medical masks will once again be required for visitors and staff entering all healthcare facilities in B.C., including hospitals and long-term care homes.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the announcement during a press conference Thursday afternoon, where she spoke about the increasing prevalence of respiratory viruses in the province, including COVID-19, influenza and RSV. The fall is generally the beginning of respiratory virus season.

Beginning Oct. 3, medical masks will be a requirement for healthcare workers, volunteers and visitors in B.C. hospitals, clinical settings, long-term care homes, assisted living facilities and provincial mental health facilities.

Dr. Henry also spoke about the province's rollout of its respiratory season vaccination campaign, beginning Oct. 10, for both COVID-19 and influenza. The province is recommending the updated COVID vaccine for those who haven't been infected with the virus or received a vaccination in the past six months.

She noted that those most at risk, including those over 65 years old, will receive an invite for the vaccination first.

ORIGINAL: 12 p.m.

B.C.'s Minister of Health Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry are making an announcement Thursday about the province's launch of its respiratory illness vaccination campaign.

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