Written by: Mahdi Dialden, News Writer 

A mask mandate has been implemented province-wide in all indoor public and retail places. The announcement from Dr. Bonnie Henry on November 20, 2020 came amidst the rise in COVID-19 cases hitting local records in the province since the pandemic started. 

Previously, SFU health sciences professor Scott Lear created a petition demanding a mask mandate in the Greater Vancouver area and asked BC Health Minister Adrian Dix to consider making masks mandatory in all indoor places to stop the spread of the virus. 

Lear views the mandate as a preventive strategy: “Things that we’re putting in are very reactive [ . . . ] The idea of wearing masks is to prevent cases going up [ . . . ] Wearing a mask would be more favourable than having my place of employment shut down or the place where I like to go eat shut down,” he added.

A week earlier, Dr. Henry was asked if she would consider a provincial-wide mask mandate similar to other jurisdictions. She stated, “No. We have always said that these individual measures are ones that we expect people to do and we’ve seen that that is the way that people have responded to that. We know that there are some people who are not able to wear masks and we need to respect that. But most people can and do,” she responded.

Lear said that the former expectation that people would follow suggestions based on goodwill is not reasonable and “goes against decades of research [as] knowledge of something doesn’t equal behaviour.” Lear explained, “Public health measures can help shift or determine social norms. So if we see [more people wearing a mask], the more likely we’re to go ourselves, going to wear a mask.

“We should be making all efforts to stop this and get out of it as fast as we can and if by getting a mask mandate, if that can reduce cases, maybe that can reduce having to lean on restrictions as much and I think that’s overall healthier for the community.”