March 9, 2022 12:33pm
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has confirmed most mask mandates are being lifted across the province as of March 21.
Dr. Kieran Moore has announced that as of that date face coverings will no longer be required in most indoor public settings including schools, restaurants, retail stores, gyms, and movie theatres.
He cited improving case numbers and declining hospitalizations for making it possible to lift the masking mandate.
Moore added there will be some exceptions, such as masking on public transit, in healthcare settings, and long-term care or congregate living settings.
Despite the next step in easing restrictions, he adds the risk of infections still remains.
“Removing the mask mandate does not mean the risk is gone,” said Moore. “COVID-19 transmission is still occurring across the province and masks can help protect you and others from becoming infected.”
“However, thanks to our high vaccinations rates and natural immunity that is developing, as well as the arrival of other therapeutics and anti-virals, Ontario has the tools necessary to manage the impact of this virus,” added Moore.
At a news conference prior to the official announcement, Premier Doug Ford said he believes the time is right based on recommendations from Dr. Moore.
“It’s going to be up to the people of Ontario, if you want to keep your mask on keep it on, if you want to take it off, take it off,” said Ford. “We have to move forward from this, people are exhausted and the poor kids in those classrooms too, we have to move on.”
Despite the province lifting most mask mandates, there are still federal rules in place.
“For those most vulnerable to the virus, it is still strongly recommended that you continue to wear a mask and please continue to respect the masking requirements that remain in place such as federal requirements for returning international travellers,” explained Moore.
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