The City of Vernon has updated its mask-wearing policy from a strong suggestion to a requirement.
Effective immediately, a non-medical mask will need to be worn while inside all city-operated facilities, including city hall and council chambers, the Community Services building, operations building, Vernon Water Reclamation Centre, Vernon Regional Airport Terminal, the bylaw compliance office, Fire Station 1, the community safety office and the RCMP building.
The news comes on day after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry released new health orders and guidelines to help slow and contain the spread of COVID-19, including making masks mandatory in all indoor public and retail spaces.
Additionally, all are required to wear a mask in lobbies, hallways, concourses, the auditorium, and change rooms of all Greater Vernon Recreation facilities. Program leaders will advise participants whether masks are required for specific activities and programs.
You’ll need a mask if attending city council meetings and public hearings. The mandate also goes for all city staff members, contractors and volunteers inside city facilities where physical distancing is not possible and plexiglass is not in place.
In line with the PHO’s direction, people who cannot put on or remove a mask on their own, and children under the age of two, are exempt from the mask requirement.
“As we have experienced over the last several months, these changes can happen quickly, so we must remain diligent and nimble in our response to the pandemic and the impacts of the COVID-19 virus,” said Mayor Victor Cumming.
“Dr. Henry’s direction yesterday was clear – we must take immediate and specific actions to help slow and contain the spread of the virus in BC to protect ourselves, each other, our healthcare system, and our communities as a whole.”
Cumming added that additional requirements have been put in place for staff to wear masks in public spaces and shared workspaces, as well as fill out a self-assessment heath questionnaire daily.
“If you visit a city facility and see a staff member working alone behind a plexiglass window, they may not be wearing a mask, but if they leave that space, they are required to wear a mask to adhere to the health order and to help maintain a safe environment for our staff, citizens and visitors.”
To help reduce physical contact, people are encouraged to call or email the city with inquiries, and to make payments online or via mail or the all-hours drop box at city hall, if possible.
“As we mentioned before, each of these steps we are taking – staying home if we are sick, washing our hands, keeping our physical distance, wearing masks, putting environmental controls like plexiglass in place – are adding layers of protection against the spread and transmission of COVID-19 and other infections,” said Cumming. “It is paramount that we continue to work together, and that we follow the advice of Dr. Henry to be kind, be calm and be safe.”
The City will continue to provide updates as they become available. For more information on the City’s response and community resources, please visit: www.vernon.ca/covid-19.