Children aged five and older are now included in the public health order mandating masks for indoor public spaces in B.C., the province confirmed Tuesday.
The change was made for consistency’s sake — B.C.’s provincewide mask mandate is now more aligned with new school masking rules in place for kids in kindergarten to Grade 3.
“We also want to keep things as straightforward and as simple as possible, therefore I am adjusting the public mask mandate,” Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said during a news conference.
“I continue to be amazed by the adaptability and resilience of children across this province.”
Previously, the mask rule for indoor public spaces only applied to children aged 12 and older.
As of Friday, there were 743 new COVID-19 diagnoses in B.C. and five added deaths.
The province said 88.6 per cent of eligible B.C. residents had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 82.2 per cent were fully vaccinated.
Currently, only those aged 12 and up are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in Canada. Pfizer has requested Health Canada approve its vaccine for kids aged five to 11, and Henry said Tuesday she hopes the vaccine will be available for kids “as early as early November.”
She said the province is still developing its strategy for immunizing children. She said eligibility won’t be age based, as it was with adults, as families often have more than one child.
There are roughly 340,000 children between the ages of five and 11 in B.C.
Officials are encouraging families to register their children for the shot through the provincial Get Vaccinated portal. Parents who register will receive a notification when it’s time to book a vaccine appointment for their child.