A petition calling on the province to keep mandatory mask requirements for public transit in B.C. has garnered more than 1,600 signatures.
The Change.org petition by Daryl Dela Cruz, addressed to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Minister of Health Adrian Dix, Premier John Horgan, BC Transit and TransLink, says while other jurisdictions have moved ahead with lifting mask mandates and vaccination requirements, many have continued to require that masks be worn on transit.
"Over the last few weeks, we have seen other provinces in Canada and the United States lift mask-wearing and vaccination requirements in public spaces, in response to a drop in COVID-19 cases," the petition says.
"However, almost all of these jurisdictions have made one important exception: they continue to require masks and face coverings on public transit buses, trains, ferries, taxis, and ride-share vehicles.
"This includes our two next-door neighbours, Alberta and Washington State, who have both specifically indicated that public transit and ride-share vehicles are still subject to a mask mandate because they are 'high-risk settings'".
Earlier this year, Henry said B.C. will be reviewing vaccine pass requirements and the mandatory mask order on a monthly basis. The remaining restrictions are set to be reviewed by March 15.
On March 1, the province's top doc said B.C. “is trying to shift to personal responsibility and business responsibility.”
The petition states public health officials should consider seven factors when making a decision on masks:
- public transit vehicles not being subject to vaccine requirements
- ridership possibly increasing as gas prices hit record highs
- allergy season
When contacted by the NOW, BC Transit said they understand an announcement is coming Thursday, and could not comment further until more details are released.
"As we have throughout the pandemic, BC Transit will continue to follow the guidance of the Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafeBC with our policies and practices in response to COVID-19," the company said in an emailed statement.
TransLink told the NOW it will have further comment when/if mandates are changed.
Cruz says he would like to see transit riders given consideration and is hoping Dix and Henry will have supporting data for their decision.
"Personally, I'd prefer that masks stay mandatory in all public places until we have a better idea of how much COVID is out there by making testing more available."
With files from Colin Dacre, Castanet