WorkSafeBC Home

Masks in workplaces

Public health orders: May 18 update (mask requirements)

On November 24, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued an order requiring all British Columbians, 12 years of age and older, to wear masks in many indoor settings. On May 18, 2021, this order was updated to require masks to be worn at all times in fitness facilities, including during workouts.

On May 2, 2021, the provincial health officer issued an order requiring workers to wear masks in indoor common areas of workplaces — meaning spaces where workers may gather with other workers when at the workplace.

 

On November 24, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued an order requiring all British Columbians, 12 years of age and older, to wear masks in many indoor settings. This order requires the use of masks in many public indoor settings and all retail stores. There are exemptions for:

  • People with health conditions or with physical, cognitive or mental impairments who cannot wear one
  • People who cannot remove a mask on their own
  • Children under the age of 12
  • People who need to remove their masks to communicate due to a hearing impairment

On May 2, 2021, the provincial health officer issued an order requiring workers to wear masks in indoor common areas of workplaces — meaning spaces where workers may gather with other workers when at the workplace.

  • Workers are required to wear masks when in common indoor areas of the workplace. This means spaces were workers may gather with other workers (for example, kitchens, elevators, hallways, workplace fitness facilities etc.). The order requiring masks in indoor common areas includes a list of exemptions that employers and workers should be aware of.
  • Workers are required to wear masks when in a workplace vehicle being used to transport more than one worker for work-related purposes.
  • A worker does not need to wear a mask in an indoor common area if there is a physical barrier between the worker and other workers that blocks the transmission of droplets.

What employers need to do

Employers must review their COVID-19 safety plan to ensure that it reflects the requirements of the provincial health officer order around the use of masks by workers in common areas of the workplace.

Employers should also provide signage on the mandatory mask policy and inform customers about the requirement to wear masks in public spaces. Employers should ensure that workers are provided with information on how to discuss mandatory mask usage with customers, including what to do if they refuse or become abusive. Employers should review their violence prevention policy to ensure that it addresses safety issues that may arise.

What workers need to do

Workers must abide by the protocols and policies in their employer's COVID-19 Safety Plan, which may include the use of masks for some circumstances.

Resources for employers and workers

Frequently asked questions

Who is responsible for ensuring workers and customers wear masks?

Employers should provide signage on the mandatory mask policy and inform customers about the requirement.

Who enforces the public mask requirement?

To report contraventions of the mask order, people are asked to contact their local government’s bylaw office. If they are unable to reach a local bylaw office, they can contact their local police department’s non-emergency line. Police may be called if someone becomes threatening or abusive in response to a request to put on a mask.

If everyone is wearing a mask, does that mean we no longer need other protocols, such as physical distancing and barriers?

No. Mask wearing is just one part of an effective COVID-19 Safety Plan. All other workplace protocols including health checks, physical distancing, barriers, masks, and cleaning protocols need to remain in place, and you must ensure that they are being followed appropriately.

What can be worn as a mask?

Members of the public are advised to wear a mask, defined in the order as a medical or non-medical mask that covers the nose and mouth. Face shields are not a substitute for a mask, as there is an opening below the mouth. Employers are advised to review selecting and using masks in non-health care settings for guidance on appropriate masks for workers.

How should employers manage the exemptions to the public mask requirement?

This order includes exemptions for:

  • People with health conditions or with physical, cognitive, or mental impairments who cannot wear one
  • People who cannot remove a mask on their own
  • Children under the age of 12
  • People who need to remove their masks to communicate due to a hearing impairment

Employers are not required to ask members of the public for proof that an exemption applies to them.