Dr. Henry says mask use could be mandated if COVID cases spike

No mandated masks, for now

While face masks are recommended for people who can't maintain physical distance in public, the use of masks is not mandated. For now.

Last week, Washington State ordered the use of face masks for those entering indoor public settings like grocery stores, pharmacies, health clinics and other indoor locations.

In the past, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has pushed back against mandating the use of masks, noting those with respiratory issues or those with disabilities may be unable to wear them. But during Tuesday's press conference, she opened the door to possibly mandating their use in the future.

“There is no plan to mandate mask use here in British Columbia at this time,” she said. “We may, if we end up during the respiratory season with a surge, it may become more directive that we will require people to wear masks in some indoor situations if we start to see a lot more transmission in our communities, but we're not at that point right now.”

Washington State has seen new daily cases of the virus in the several hundreds in recent weeks, while B.C. has had new daily cases hover between 10 and 20.

On Tuesday, Toronto city council voted in favour of mandating the use of non-medical masks for those in indoor public spaces. The new regulation goes into effect in Canada's largest city on July 7. 

In B.C., Dr. Henry recommends masks for those who are in indoor settings who can't maintain distance from others. She added that those using public transit should be wearing masks.

“You should be wearing a mask if you're taking transit, particularly now where there are more people taking transit,” she said, adding those who are most at-risk to COVID-19 should try and take transit during non-peak hours, not take transit at all.

“Right now, at the levels that we have in our community, I don't believe we need to go that enforcement route with mask wearing, but I certainly wear one when I take transit, when I go into stores, and I expect others will too.

“It's an important layer, but it doesn't replace the other layers that we have that we know keep us safe.”

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