B.C., UVic announce end to mask mandate

Campus News
Photo by Isabella Kennedy.

A recent press conference by the B.C. government announced the end to some key COVID-19 restrictions, and a short timeline on when others will expire.

On March 10, 2022, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stated that the provincial mask mandate, which has been firmly in place since Aug. 25, 2021, will come to an end on March 11.

This news does not mean that masks are gone for good. Henry said that businesses may still ask staff and customers to wear masks, and that the public must respect their wishes. Masks will still need to be worn on planes and for federally regulated travel.

Although masks are still being recommended by the provincial government when using public transit, BC Transit has announced its passengers will no longer need face coverings. This mandate change does not affect those who access HandyDART as they will still need to wear masks.

At this news conference, Henry also announced that the B.C. government will be looking to end the vaccine card mandate on April 8 if COVID-19 rates stay the same. If this occurs, individual businesses will again have the option to decide if their customers need proof of vaccination to access services.

What does this change mean for UVic’s campus?

A mass email sent out on Thursday night from UVic’s Manager, Emergency Planning and COVID response lead Rob Johns indicates that masks will no longer be mandatory in classrooms nor on the rest of campus.

“This change may feel sudden and unexpected. Please continue to be kind and compassionate while we navigate this change,” the email states.

The Martlet reached out to UVic for a comment, and they provided the link to their online statement about the lifting of the mask mandate, which contains most of the information from their mass email.

Although masks are no longer required, UVic still strongly recommends them while indoors and near other people.

The statement also states that, “it is essential that we all continue to be respectful of the personal choices that each individual may make regarding mask use and physical distance.”

UVic also recommends getting vaccinated, staying home if you are sick, and taking part in daily health checks.

Another email sent from the UVSS Executive Director claims that masks will still be required for staff and volunteers in the Student Union Building (SUB). Students visiting the SUB no longer are required to wear masks, but it is still recommended. Though masks will not be required at upcoming SUB-related events, there will still be a requirement to show vaccine passes.

Advocacy groups and businesses in the SUB will be responsible for their own spaces and may retain the mandatory mask rule as they see fit. The Society for Students with Disability (SSD) has already announced that they will continue to require masks to be worn in their space.