B.C. mask mandate officially ends, how do people feel?

12:01 a.m. Friday marked the end of B.C.’s masking mandate, with the province moving ahead with its plan to lift COVID-19 public health orders.

The move signals a return to pre-pandemic normal — something many people have been eager to get back to for about two years now.

Restaurants, grocery stores, and buses are among the places British Columbians no longer need to cover up. However, some businesses may still require customers to wear a mask as a condition of entry.

Related articles: 

Dr. Susan Kwan, a respirologist at Burnaby General Hospital, says she’s on board with getting rid of the masking requirement.

“Different waves come with the up-slope and also down-slope. And what I can see is B.C. is confident enough that we are on the down-slope of this wave. Of course we should be vigilant and watch out for any other changes,” she explained.

This is not the first time B.C. has dropped its mask mandate. Last year, the province moved to ease the requirement in July, but brought it back just weeks later after a spike in cases was recorded.

At the time, B.C.’s vaccination rate was lower than it is now.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the philosophy of where we are now versus then is the same, in that you “use the least amount of tools that are needed by a mandate … at the times when you can.”

She noted when the mask mandate was first lifted in 2021, case numbers were declining and vaccination rates were increasing.

“The virus’ strains that we were dealing with at the time, the vaccination — the two doses — was very protective for people, and we saw cases come down. And we were optimistic that that might be the point where we would no longer need to put measures in place that required things like masking,” she explained Thursday.

While virtually all pandemic measures will end in B.C. in about four weeks, Henry has warned we need to continue being cautious.

Kwan agrees. She says she welcomes the update from the province on public health orders, which includes the end of the vaccine passport as of April 8. But she warns other areas may still be seeing higher rates of transmission than where you live.

“So there’s still chance of (COVID-19) mutating to more virulent mutants, which can spread again,” she explained. “So that’s why — we are one world and the whole world should stand up together to fight this pandemic.”

She says she has fewer concerns over removing the mask requirement for the general public. But Kwan notes masking should still be a necessary tool under certain circumstances.

“Anyone that has a respiratory illness, cough, or sputum, they should put on the mask. I think this is a good practice,” she said, similar to not wiping your nose with your hands. “It should become like a personal hygiene, that we should take care of ourselves. For myself, I have been mostly wearing masks and it’s become a habit.”

Metro Vancouver reaction on ditching masks mixed

When it comes to how people are feeling about the end of B.C.’s mask mandate, it appears reaction is mixed.

Many people are welcoming the change, with one person saying, “I can’t wait to see everyone’s beautiful faces!”

“It’s time,” one woman told CityNews Friday of mandates ending.

“I’m looking forward to it. My ears are sore. It’s been two years of painful irritating — ‘ear’-itating,” joked a man, Mike, who added he’ll throw a mask on “when I feel I really, really, really need to.”

However, some feel the mandate is being lifted too early.

“I think it’s not safe yet. For me, I’ll just do it slowly,” Dolly said, adding she’ll be keeping the mask on for the time being.

“Well, I’ll definitely not be visiting restaurants … any time soon & will keep wearing my mask everywhere,” one social media post reads.

There are also many who point out easing COVID-19 restrictions can have a devastating effect on those most vulnerable.

“Earlier in the pandemic Henry emphasized needing to protect the vulnerable. But that got ‘uncomfortable’. Well we can’t have that, can we? Our society is so broken,” a tweet reads.

“Would have loved a warning on the mask mandate being lifted. Would have stocked up on shopping and getting everything in order prior to entering the new phase of our pandemic life,” another said.

Some have concerns about transmission, saying testing challenges mean we don’t actually know how prevalent the virus is in our communities.

“And is there another variant that we’re not aware of because of not testing?” asked Spencer, who tells CityNews he’ll keep his mask on for now. “I think at least for the next two weeks to a month I’ll be wearing my mask in public areas.”

-With files from Denise Wong and Sonia Aslam

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today