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British Columbia lifts mask mandate, other COVID-19 restrictions

student taking off mask smiling

British Columbia is lifting its public health order making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced today that effective March 11 at 12:01 am, several COVID‑19 restrictions and mandates will be lifted, including the order making masks mandatory in all public indoor spaces and capacity limits on faith gatherings.

The restrictions on visitors to long-term care facilities is also being lifted as of March 18, and overnight camps for children and youth will be permitted again. The order making masks mandatory in K‑12 schools will also be lifted once students return from spring break later this month.

The announcement means that masks will no longer be mandatory in most places, Dr. Henry said, adding that masks will still be required in some situations, like health care settings, doctors’ offices and long-term care facilities.

Additionally, BC’s proof of vaccination mandate will remain in place for a little longer. Dr. Henry announced that the BC’s vaccine passport will no longer be required starting April 8 at 12:01 am. Businesses and organizations will also transition from COVID‑19 safety plans back to communicable disease plans at that time.

“Masks continue to be a very important protective measure,” Dr. Henry said, adding that while no longer mandatory, mask wearing continues to be encouraged, especially in crowded settings where it is difficult to maintain a distance from others, like public transit.

Workplaces and businesses can still require masks and proof of vaccination, if they choose.

“While masks are no longer requires or mandated under an order as of tomorrow, some people and some locations will continue to use masks personally or in their business, and that’s OK,” she said. “We need to support that. We need to recognize that. We all have our own risks and our own vulnerabilities.”

Dr. Henry said British Columbia is one of the most vaccinated jurisdictions in the world – nearly 91% of BC residents aged five and older have received their first dose of a COVID‑19 vaccine, 86.6% have received two doses COVID‑19 vaccine, and 56% of people aged 12 and older have gotten a third booster dose.

“Vaccines are the primary tool in our toolbox for managing COVID‑19 in the long term and people have stepped up in a big way to get vaccinated, which has made a huge difference in creating high levels of immunity and protection across the province,” Dr. Henry said.

“As we move through this transition period and lift restrictions, we encourage people to respect the comfort levels of those around them.”

Published on March 10, 2022.