Masks now the expectation in public places, says B.C.’s top doctor

Masks now the expectation in public places, says B.C.'s top doctor
WatchOn Monday, B.C.'s top doctor stopped short of ordering a mask mandate in the province. Instead, Dr. Bonnie Henry says she expects people to wear a non-medical mask while indoors in public places.

A sign went up first thing this morning at Nanaimo’s Brechin Lanes bowling alley, saying “safety first, masks recommended”.

The bowlers take their games seriously and their health, according to owner Ray Brittain.

“Now, just in our first shift this morning, it looks like we have maybe 99, or 100-percent buy-in on the masks, which is really encouraging,” Brittain said.

On Monday, BC’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stopped short of a mask mandate but strongly recommending British Columbians wear masks while in public spaces indoors.

“It’s not an order because this is something that I know we support as part of our mutual responsibilities to protect ourselves and to protect each other,” she said.

B.C.’s doctors are split on the idea of a mandatory mask policy indoors.  Dr. Kathleen Ross, present of Doctors of BC, a voluntary association of 14,000 physicians, residents and medical students in British Columbia, said the group is encouraging people to do the right thing.

“If they are properly informed as to what the benefit of wearing a mask is, I believe people will do the right thing,” Ross said.

The 1,200 doctors who are part of Mask4BC would like to see a mask mandate unless there is voluntary compliance, according to Dr. Anna Wolak, assistant professor at the University of British Columbia and a member of the group.

“If we are finding that people are still not listening then we still feel that the mandatory mask order is required.”

Henry’s recommendation for wearing a mask indoors applies to locations such as grocery stores and shopping malls but not to outside public spaces.

READ MORE: Island Health opens new COVID-19 testing site at University of Victoria

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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