B.C. health officials have ordered a new mandatory mask mandate amid a surging second wave of COVID-19 in the province, and the union representing government cannabis workers couldn’t be more relieved.
In a statement released shortly after provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the new health order on Thursday, the B.C. Government and Services Employees’ Union called the move a “major victory” for its 80,000 members.
“I’ve heard daily from BCGEU members who are concerned about returning to the office, and from members who work directly indoors with the public, such as our members in BC Liquor and Cannabis stores,” Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president, said.
“They have experienced heightened stress, verbal abuse and, of course, fear of contracting COVID-19 – all while working hard to serve the public in the safest way possible. With this order, we now finally have the clear, consistent and official support to keep workers and the public safe in all inside public spaces.”
During the height of the pandemic in March to June, government-owned cannabis and liquor stores were classified as essential services allowing them to be exempt from quarantine restrictions.
The mandatory mask policy calls for both employees and customers in retail spaces to wear resusable or medical-grade masks while indoors. The mandate is also in place for any other public indoor spaces.
Those exempt from the health order include children under the age of two and anyone who cannot wear a mask due to medical issues or disability.