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BC extends state of emergency and introduces fines for those who refuse to comply with mask rules

For the 19th time since it was declared in the spring, British Columbia’s state of emergency due to COVID-19 has been extended for another two weeks.

It’s now in effect until the end of the day on Dec. 8, at which point it will almost certainly be extended for a 20th time.

"We've entered a second wave of COVID-19 in British Columbia and additional steps need to be taken to protect our health," said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety.

"Now more than ever, we all need to follow the guidelines of the provincial health officer (PHO). Last week, the PHO provided guidance that masks should be worn in all indoor public places.”

<who>Photo Credit: John Horgan/Twitter

The order on wearing masks is just one measure the government has introduced under the Emergency Program Act, which is made possible by the state of emergency.

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older, in indoor public places that includes:

  • Malls, shopping centres, coffee shops, and retail and grocery stores.
  • Liquor and drug stores.
  • Airports, city halls, libraries, community and recreation centres.
  • Restaurants, pubs and bars.
  • Places of public worship.
  • On public transportation, in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle.
  • Common areas of office buildings, court houses, hospitals and hotels.
  • Common areas of sport and fitness centres when not engaged in physical activity.
  • Common areas of post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations.

Effective immediately, anyone without a mask in an indoor public place who refuses to comply with the direction of an enforcement officer may be subject to a $230 fine.

The fine could also be levied against a person who refuses to leave that space or responds to enforcement officers with abusive or belligerent behaviour.

"People who cannot wear a mask or who cannot put on or remove a mask without the assistance of others are exempt," said a government release.

"A person may not be able to wear a mask for a psychological, behavioural or health condition, or due to a physical, cognitive or mental impairment."

Emergency Management BC anticipates issuing further orders to enforce requirements for masks in common areas of apartment buildings, condos and workplaces.

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