New PHO Orders: Masks and Proof of Vaccination

Mandatory Masks:

  • The Provincial Health Officer has issued new province-wide mandatory mask requirements for all indoor public areas effective August 25, 2021 including shopping centres, coffee shops, retail and grocery stores, pubs, and public transportation.
  • To support the full return to in-person education, research and on-campus services for B.C.’s post-secondary institutions, the new mask order will apply to all indoor public areas on post-secondary campuses including classrooms, labs, lobbies, hallways, stairwells, and elevators.
  • Further details will be available in the Provincial Health Officer Order currently under development, including mask exemption provisions.


Proof of Vaccination:

  • Starting September 13, 2021, proof of vaccination will be required in B.C. to access a broad range of social, recreational, and discretionary events and businesses throughout the province including:
    • Indoor and patio dining in restaurants, fitness centres and gyms, indoor ticketed sporting events, indoor theatre events, and indoor organized events like conferences and weddings; and,
    • Students living in on-campus student housing at B.C. post- secondary institutions.  Partial vaccination will be required by September 7, 2021 to align with the start of the fall academic term.
  • Local health authorities are working closely with post-secondary institutions to provide access to the COVID-19 vaccine for all students, faculty and staff.
  • Discretionary non-educational activities and businesses on post-secondary campuses captured by the new proof of vaccination requirements include restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, gyms, and indoor ticketed events.
  • The specifics of the proof of vaccination requirements will be outlined in a new Provincial Health Officer Order currently under development.
  • Post-secondary institutions may implement their own proof of vaccination requirements as a part of their communicable disease prevention plans.  Institutions seeking to introduce their own proof of vaccination policies are responsible for doing their own due diligence and consulting with public health. Public health has advised that while institutions may consider a vaccination policy for employees, they are not supportive of proof of vaccination requirements for students participating in educational activities (e.g., classrooms, labs, field schools, tutorials etc.).

Region-Specific Public Health Measures for Interior Health:

  • New public health measures were introduced on August 20, 2021 in the Interior Health region to respond to an increase in COVID-19 cases including clusters and outbreaks.
  • The measures are a region-specific and time-limited approach to lowering the number of COVID-19 cases, and provide an example of how local health authorities will support post-secondary institutions in responding to COVID-19 outbreaks.
  • NOTE:  The Interior Health COVID-19 Gatherings and Events Order continues to provide an exemption to the 50-person limit for gatherings for post-secondary institutions engaged in educational activities.  However, please note that indoor and outdoor gatherings and events not directly related to educational activities (e.g. BBQs, social orientation events, etc.) will be limited to 50 people.


Additional Fall 2021 Public Health Guidance:

  • B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer has advised that the full return to in-person learning is not dependent on the province transitioning to Step 4 of the BC Restart Plan.
  • Classrooms, lecture theatres and educational orientation events are not considered gatherings and can operate with no capacity limits.
  • Students participating in health science programs must be fully immunized as required by the COVID-19 Vaccination Status Information and Preventative Measures Order dated August 20, 2021 in order to participate in student practicums and clinical placements.
  • Experts from the post-secondary sector and public health are meeting on a weekly basis to support the fall return to campus, including facilitating coordinated sector-wide approaches to emerging issues and the implementation of the proof of vaccination requirements.
  • The Return-to-Campus Guidelines are being updated to reflect the evolving public health guidance.

Thank you for the important role you play in supporting the provincial COVID-19 response.  Please share this update broadly within your respective institutions.

COVID-19 Resources:

·       COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines are hosted on government’s public website.

·       Guidance and recommendations from the Provincial Health Officer are available online at the COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information website.

·       If you require advice regarding a potential COVID-19 case, please contact your local Medical Health Officer.

·        WorksafeBC guidance is available on communicable disease prevention plans.

Private Training Institutions Branch

Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training