Masks should still be mandatory until the fall

The restriction should have been in place until fully vaccinated rates went up

(Kristen Frier)

(Kristen Frier)

Although mask-wearing in British Columbia changed from “mandatory” to “recommended” on July 1, everyone should’ve been wearing a face-covering in any indoor public space until the fall. 

The mask mandate was finally set in place last November after B.C. health officials were pressured to make it mandatory. When the circuit breaker ended, the government announced a reopening plan on May 25. As part of Phase 3, the mandate was lifted on Canada Day, although masks are still recommended for those who haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.  

While I understand this decision has made many shoppers happy to walk into a store without a face covering, I think it was a premature decision on behalf of the B.C. government. 

First of all, it isn’t fair to those individuals who haven’t received their second doses yet. Some people might get anxious being around someone not wearing a mask. We don’t know who has or hasn’t been vaccinated when we go shopping. Dr. Bonnie Henry said everyone is moving at their own pace, but she should have extended the mandate as an extra precaution. 

According to B.C.’s top doctor, it’s still a good idea to wear a mask if you haven’t been fully vaccinated. Although I have already seen a majority of my customers at Staples Depot without face coverings, I doubt they’ve all received their second doses as some of them are still in younger age groups. Many individuals will probably take advantage of this newly-returned “freedom” whenever they go out because they know that some stores won’t stop them now. 

Some businesses may still require masks inside their stores even though the mandate has been removed. However, I imagine this puts a lot more pressure on them to continue to enforce their mask policies on their own.

I’ve learned from this pandemic that people love to challenge the law because they’re selfish. They only care about what’s best for them. Yet, they fail to consider the safety of these businesses and their employees. 

Among other businesses asking people to wear masks, there’s a coffee shop in South Surrey called ‘Everbean Cafe’ that’s also asking customers to wear masks in their business. When they reminded everyone of their mask policy on Instagram, someone told them that they were stupid not to listen to the government’s instructions. 

The thing is, the cafe owner recognizes that some of her employees haven’t received their second dose yet, so this is an added precaution to protect them. 

It would have made more sense to lift the mask mandate once more people received their second dose. Almost 38 per cent of people in B.C. have received two doses, but it’d be better if 70 to 80 per cent of people were fully vaccinated. And even though more people are getting vaccinated, there’s still a risk of transmission in indoor spaces without proper ventilation, according to Dr.Victor Leung, an infectious diseases physician in Vancouver. 

I’m sure the government thought carefully about their next steps, but I think it was a huge mistake to lift the mandate at the beginning of July. We’re still vulnerable, and if people let their guard down too early, it could all fall apart.