This year has been challenging to say the least and you’ve likely had to pivot and adapt for your clients and your continued survival in business and in life.

As we move into the final stretch of the summer, we’d like to remind all members the risks of COVID-19 and the strict health and safety protocols regarding work are still with us and will likely be with us for some time.

In fact, the BC government just extended the Provincial State of Emergency again on August 4 to 18. The state of emergency allows the government to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the province’s COVID-19 pandemic response and aid the province’s efforts to lobby the federal government to keep the Canada-US border closed to non-essential travel.

On July 10, the COVID-19 Related Measures Act came into force, enabling the provisions created for citizens and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue as needed even if the provincial state of emergency ends.

So, until we hear otherwise, we all need to continue to put space between ourselves and others, use technology in place of riskier face-to-face interactions whenever possible and use masks and/or gloves when maintaining physical distance or when you have no choice but to touch surfaces that aren’t your own. And, just as importantly, we need to wash our hands regularly and use hand sanitizers when we cannot.

As our CEO Baldev mentioned in his June 23 eMemo, there is no expiry date for COVID-19 public safety protocols and Realtor or brokerage non-compliance could violate BC’s Public Health Act and potentially The REALTOR® Code and Standards of Business Practice.

Here are some additional tips and reminders that may be helpful.

Fake mask and face covering exemption cards:

In the past few weeks, fake mask exemption cards have popped up on social media from anti-mask groups and there have been anti-mask protests in downtown Vancouver. The cards being circulated by the groups typically say the person who carries one has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask or face covering. The Canadian Red Cross says the cards also contain a version of their organization’s logo, but the groups don’t have their permission to use it. The cards also often have a medical care seal and a phone number for the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

The Canadian Red Cross is not aware of any official mask exemption cards being produced within Canada that would give a card holder this type of exemption. The Canadian Human Rights Commission also says they would not produce posters or cards with this type of information.

The World Health Organization suggests some groups of people may have difficulty wearing a mask, such as children, those who are developmentally challenged or have mental illness, the elderly with cognitive impairment, those with asthma or chronic respiratory or breathing problems, those who have had facial trauma or recent oral maxillofacial surgery and those living in hot, humid environments.

BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said many times that the use of non-surgical masks or face coverings are not mandatory in BC and are not 100 per cent guaranteed to protect you or others from COVID-19, however she supports the use of them in situations when maintaining physical distancing is not possible (e. g. on transit or when you could find yourself in close proximity with others). Dr. Henry does not feel the sole use of masks without additional health and safety measures would be effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

WorkSafeBC seems to agree with Dr. Henry. They consider the use of masks and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be less effective than other health and safety protocols.

WorkSafeBC’s advice on selecting health and safety protocols:

WorkSafeBC says different health and safety protocols offer different levels of protection. They recommend that you use the protocols that offer the highest level of protection and add more protocols as required.

The first level of protection: Elimination of Risk

Limit the number of people around you and others as much of possible by:

  • working from home
  • creating physical distance between people (at least 2 metres or 6 feet)
  • establishing occupancy limits (e. g. at showings, open houses, at the office)
  • adjusting work tasks as needed to avoid being in close contact with others
  • rearranging workspaces if you can and if you are sharing an office with others

The second level of protection: Engineering Controls

If you can’t maintain physical distancing, create physical barriers to separate people.

Although it may not be practical for you to install plexiglass to maintain physical distancing in a non-office setting, you can restrict access to small spaces that do not allow physical distancing, for example at an in-person viewing or Open House.

The third level of protection: Administrative Controls

Establish rules and guidelines.These are things like establishing clear cleaning protocols, restricting the sharing of tools such as pens or tablets or cleaning them after each use, putting temporary stickers on the floor to control traffic flow through an Open House to maintain physical distancing and leaving doors open to minimize people having to touch surfaces.

The fourth level of protection: Personal Protective Equipment

If the first three levels of protection aren’t enough to control health and safety risks, consider using PPE such as masks or gloves and ensure they are properly worn, handled and disposed of.

If someone arrives at an Open House or an in-person showing without a mask, you can either provide one to them or deny entry if your well-communicated policy is that every visitor must wear a mask or face covering. That includes Realtors or members of the public who may turn up with a mask exemption card.

If you have questions about work-related health and safety issues, contact WorkSafeBC at 1-888-621-7233 (Monday to Friday 8:05 am to 4:30 pm).

For additional information from WorkSafeBC, go to:

Real estate: Protocols for returning to operation

For additional information on COVID-19, check out the following resources:

Source: FVREB Communications