The Retail Council of B.C. is urging the government to mandate masks to help stores with aggressive customers.
In a Wednesday (Nov. 18) news release, the council said that retailers in the provinces have followed current B.C. mask advice, and have added masks to their COVID-19 workplace safety plans and posted signs asking customers to wear them.
Speaking at a Monday press conference, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry again declined to mandate masks at a government level. She told reporters that masks were already all but required in most indoor spaces like stores, on ferries and buses and in other businesses.
“There is an order that requires businesses to have COVID safety plans. A retail location, for example, should have plans that include mask wearing. That means making them available to people, making it clear that they need to wear a mask when they’re in those settings, making sure staff need to know when to wear masks as well,” Henry said.
However, the council said that a mask mandate from the government would be more effective than employees and stores trying to enforce their own rules.
“It will greatly help retail workers and store owners who experience aggressive behaviour from customers not wishing to wear face coverings,” said CEO Diane J. Brisebois. “When customers refuse to wear masks in stores, it puts workers and other consumers at risk.”
There have been numerous instances in B.C. of customers trying to get around store mask mandates in recent months. Police were called to a Kelowna Costco on Monday for a customer who refused to adhere to the retailer’s mask policy, and in Trail two people attempted to refuse to wear masks inside stores in October, requiring police intervention.
Other provinces and communities have brought in mask mandates of their own. One goes into effect in Saskatchewan Thursday, while Ontario has had one for longer.
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