Which B.C. businesses still require masks?

Some businesses say they’re in an awkward position with face coverings. Why they don’t think it’s safe to unmask despite the province lifting restrictions. Crystal Laderas reports.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Now that masks are no longer mandated by the B.C. government, and COVID-19 restrictions are easing across the country, a new list is outlining which Canadian businesses still require face coverings for customers and staff.

The Safer Shopping Network is a crowd-sourced, searchable list of businesses that outlines what their current policies are. While the list is open to more than just B.C., the majority of businesses currently listed are within this province.

It’s something Dr. Victor Leung — an infectious diseases physician based in Vancouver — is a big fan of.

“Now that the direction has changed and the focus is on personal responsibility, then having people take this responsibility and do so in a professional way, I think it’s a good thing,” he told NEWS 1130.

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As of July 1, mask-wearing around B.C. went from “mandatory” to “recommended,” as the province moved into phase three of its plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions.

However, B.C.’s top doctor says it’s a good idea for people 12 and up who haven’t been fully vaccinated to continue to use them.

Meanwhile, some businesses continue to ask customers to don masks, with cases and variants still a concern, despite restrictions easing. And Leung notes they can do so.

“So setting up this Safe Shopping Network allows businesses to use this as a form of promotion, both for their business and for doing the community a good service. We believe it’s a civic responsibility to still protect others in the community who haven’t had a chance to get vaccinated,” he told NEWS 1130.

Related video: Masks off for B.C.’s Step 3, businesses welcome relaxed rules

He says this is similar to when masks were made mandatory in some spaces, even before the provincial order was brought in.

That was the case on transit in Metro Vancouver, for example, with TransLink requiring for some time that all riders wear coverings on its systems.

Leung says while mask use is now a personal choice, the Safer Shopping Network still recognizes they “are an important intervention.”

“And they are effective when we have high levels of adherence,” he explained. “There are situations, environments that increase the probability of transmission, and that’s well-known to be indoor spaces that don’t have adequate ventilation where you have people gathered together from different backgrounds that you may not be aware of.”

The Safe Shopping Network lists businesses by their type, name, city, province, and whether masks are required for staff and customers. It also shows whether masks are required in all of a business’ locations.

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