Public health says it doesn’t intend to make face masks mandatory across Quebec after it lifts its current policy.
During a Thursday afternoon press conference, Dr. Luc Boileau, Quebec’s interim director of public health, says Quebec’s future strategy with face masks and mandates will “most likely go into different phases,” citing that “we do not wish to come back with this as mandatory.”
During his announcement, Boileau says the province is “likely” to drop its mask mandate across the province on May 14 and that “all signs are pointing in that direction,” but says experts aren’t yet sure enough to make a final decision.
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He says Quebec is “heading in the right direction” but says the sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic still has a high rate of hospitalizations and infections. According to Boileau, public health will have a firm date for the mask mandate to be lifted by next week.
Boileau teased that officials don’t intend to keep the mask mandate past May 14 but says health officials will spend “the next few days” following the pandemic case count.
Boileau says there will be exceptions for where the mask mandate stays in place, citing public transit and health-care settings as examples.
Currently, Quebec is the last place in North America to enforce a face mask mandate.
In March, the CAQ government said the indoor face mask mandate would be removed across the province “by the latest mid-April.” At the time, Boileau said the epidemiological situation was “going very well” during Quebec’s transition to a “return to normal.”
The health director says the virus is “still dangerous, that hasn’t changed” but admitted Quebec needs to learn to live with the virus.
When asked by reporters if the mask mandate could make a resurgence in the fall amid colder weather, Boileau says he “doesn’t foresee it, for now.” He says Quebecers now have the knowledge to decide for themselves how to handle the virus.
“We strongly suggested that people could evaluate their own risk and see if they wish to take some personal measure,” he said. Boileau says he figures that “a lot of Quebecers” will continue to wear masks whenever the government decides to lift the mandate.
The health director also said that five to ten percent of infections in Quebec are now reinfections.