Kelowna moves to make masks mandatory inside city facilities

·2 min read

Kelowna has become the latest B.C. municipality to issue a mandatory mask policy.

Mayor Colin Basran announced Monday morning that, effective immediately, non-medical masks must be worn upon entering all indoor city-operated facilities, including city hall, recreation centres, arenas, the city yards office, and the Glenmore landfill administration building.

The Kelowna International Airport already has a mask policy in place.

In a videotaped announcement, Basran said the new measures were prompted by the surge in COVID-19 cases across Canada and British Columbia and in the Central Okanagan.

"After reaching a low of 153 active cases in ... June we are now up beyond 2,300 active cases and the numbers are increasing daily," he said.

Basran said the new policy tries to "find the right balance between public safety and public service."

Kelowna joins other municipalities that have mandatory mask policies including Richmond, Merritt, and Prince Rupert. The city of Prince George is "encouraging" everyone to wear masks inside its buildings starting Tuesday.

Under Kelowna's new mask policy:

  • Mask wearing is required in all indoor city-operated facilities, with a few exceptions for specific areas within recreation facilities.

  • All indoor staff not protected by physical barriers in public-facing areas will be required to wear a mask.

  • Outdoor staff will also wear masks when interacting with others if appropriate physical distancing cannot be maintained.

  • Signs will be posted on city buildings outlining the health and safety requirements for each property.

  • The city will provide disposable masks and hand sanitizer at public entry points and at points of service that do not have physical barriers.

  • At city council meetings, city staff and members of the public will be required to wear a mask except when making presentations. Council members will not need a mask when seated in council chambers with physical distancing and plexiglass barriers now in place.

Basran encouraged residents to follow council meetings online at kelowna.ca, and to interact with city officials online instead of in person as much as possible.