New order requires face coverings in indoor public spaces

On November 24, 2020, BC’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued Ministerial Order No. 425, which requires the use of face coverings in indoor public spaces.

The Minister has broadly defined “indoor public space” to include the following:

  • retail businesses;
  • service businesses;
  • restaurants, pubs, bars or other business that prepare and sell food or drink;
  • malls or shopping centres;
  • pharmacies;
  • health professionals’ offices;
  • places of public worship;
  • sport or fitness facilities;
  • places in which non-profit organizations provide goods or services to the public;
  • places that provide cultural, entertainment or recreational services or activities, such as theatres, cinemas, concert halls, arcades, billiard halls, museums, galleries or libraries;
  • conference centres, community halls, or other places that hosts public events;
  • indoor common areas of office buildings, hotels, hospitals, courthouses, or post-secondary institution;
  • taxis, limousines, perimeter seating vehicles and busses, vehicles used for ridesharing, vehicles for hire;
  • public transportation vehicles;
  • airports, heliports or seaplane terminals; and
  • the indoor or sheltered portion or a terminal, station or other location where people wait to load or unload from a public transportation vehicle.

The Order exempts the following persons from the face covering obligation: individuals under 12 years of age; persons who are unable to wear face coverings due to health conditions or impairments; a person who is consuming food or beverage at a restaurant or other similar provider; and a person who is receiving a personal service or a health service that requires that face coverings be removed in order to receive the service. The Order identifies a number of other limited exemptions.

Visitors to indoor public spaces who do not otherwise meet the exemptions must wear a face covering (meaning either a medical mask, non-medical mask, or a tightly woven fabric, that covers both their nose and mouth).

The Order further specifies that visitors to indoor public spaces must not engage in abusive or belligerent behaviour towards another visitor or the operator of the public space that is intended to challenge, dispute, or disturb the peace in response to a face covering requirement or another person’s adherence to it.

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