Mask mandate to remain in place when Ontario exits Step 3

Jul 30 2021, 1:50 pm

The Government of Ontario will not do away with its mandatory mask mandate when the province exits Step 3 of reopening.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott confirmed to Daily Hive that residents will still be required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces post-Step 3.

“Upon exiting the Roadmap, the vast majority of public health measures, including capacity limits, will be lifted,” the spokesperson said.

“Only a small number of measures will remain in place, including the requirement for passive screening, such as posting a sign, and businesses requiring a safety plan.”

“As the Delta variant is the dominant strain in Ontario, which is not the case with some other provinces, face coverings will also continue to be required for indoor public settings.”

The spokesperson noted that Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, will be evaluating the measure on an ongoing basis.

Earlier this month, Moore said he didn’t anticipate imposing mandatory masking come fall, provided COVID-19 is kept “under control.”

To “provide clarity” to businesses and residents, officials have disclosed several regulations that will be in effect when Ontario exits Step 3 of the reopening plan.

In addition to the continued use of masks post-Step 3, bars and restaurants will still need to ensure customers are physically distanced or separated by an “impermeable barrier.”

Customers will still need to provide their names and contact information for contact tracing purposes as well.

Capacity limits will be lifted when Ontario exits Step 3, and schools can open as long as they operate “in accordance with a return to school direction by the Minist1y of Education.”

Ontario entered Step 3 on July 13 and will remain in the stage for at least 21 days.

To exit the step, 75% of Ontarians aged 12 and over must be fully vaccinated, and 80% must have received their first dose — the latter being a milestone the province reached this week.

Officials also require each public health unit to fully immunize at least 70% of its eligible population. Toronto hit the target on July 30.

Approximately 68% of Ontario residents aged 12 and up are fully vaccinated, and roughly 80% have had one dose.

“The [Step 3] exit date will be confirmed as we get closer to achieving the additional vaccine milestones,” Elliott’s spokesperson said.

To date, Ontario has seen 550,178 COVID-19 cases and 9,339 virus-related deaths.

Zoe DemarcoZoe Demarco

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