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Here's why B.C. is ending the mandatory mask policy on July 1

Premier Horgan said he will continue to wear a mask.
Dr. Bonnie Henry stated that people must continue to support businesses and after the B.C. mandatory mask mandate is lifted on July 1, 2021. Photo: Getty Images

"I'm going to be wearing a mask."

Those are the words of Premier John Horgan, who announced June 29 that B.C. will move into Step 3 of the four-step restart plan on July 1.

And while masks will no longer be required in public indoor settings, the premier underscored that he will continue to don a face covering.

"I'm going to be wearing a mask if I'm in a with a group of people that I do not know," Horgan said.

"If I'm on a bus, if I'm on a ferry, if I'm on an airplane — these are recommendations now not directives, those recommendations are there for a reason."

Mask guidance

Masks are recommended in public indoor settings for all people 12 and older who are not yet fully vaccinated. The mask mandate order under the Emergency Program Act will be lifted July 1 and no proof of vaccination will be needed. 

  • You're fully vaccinated 14 days after dose 2
  • Some people may choose to continue to wear a mask after they're fully vaccinated and that's okay
mandatory-mask-policy-bc-covid-19-vaccinates-july-1-2021.jpgPhoto via Government of B.C.

"I ask people to support businesses."

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stated Tuesday that people must continue to support businesses and their employees after the mask mandate is lifted. "I ask people to support businesses, to protect their workers, and to live up to their requirements," she said. 

While the longest state of emergency in provincial history will be over, Henry noted the "public health emergency will remain in place."

"There [is] still transmission of this virus locally; we still have to monitor and to take additional measures to follow closely what's happening with COVID-19, and the public health emergency will remain in place," she said. 

Mask-wearing is still "important" and the province will move its guidance to who should be wearing masks, Henry explained.  All people 12 and older who are not yet fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks in all indoor public spaces.

"So that means it is important for us to continue to wear masks in those indoor settings when we're around people that we don't know," she said.

Some British Columbians may also elect to continue wearing masks after they are fully vaccinated "and that's okay," said Henry.

"We need to remember that we all need to go on our own pace.  And there are some reasons why we may be feeling more at risk, or it may be important for us to continue to protect ourselves using masks and face coverings."

The four-step restart plan was designed based on data and guidance from the public health team led by Henry and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). Progressing to each step of the plan will be measured by the number of people vaccinated, COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations and deaths and other key public health metrics.