Ontario will drop COVID-19 mask mandates in most settings after March break

Mar 9 2022, 4:10 pm

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has announced that the province will be removing mask mandates after the March break.

Mask mandates will be lifted in most settings, including schools, restaurants, retail settings and indoor events. Masks will still be required on public transit, long-term care homes and other congregate settings.

The news comes just days after Dr. Kieran Moore told reporters that estimated COVID-19 cases in the province are 10 times higher than the reported number. This would mean that there are still nearly 20,000 new COVID-19 cases per day.

The province’s masking mandate was introduced on October 3, 2020. At that time, the highest daily reported COVID-19 case count was 732.

Dr. Moore emphasized that masking will be up to individuals and that he would continue wearing a mask in busy indoor settings.

“It is a choice now,” he said.

Masking could return if a new variant emerges or if cases begin to rise in the winter during the province’s flu season.

“Removing the mask mandate does not mean the risk is gone,” said Dr. Moore. “COVID 19 transmission is still occurring across the province, and masks can help protect you and others becoming from becoming infected with COVID-19.”

On April 27, all COVID-19 measures will come to an end. This includes masking in all settings where it remained.

The move comes less than two weeks after Ontario scrapped the vaccine certificate program and lifted capacity limits in all indoor settings. Currently, Ontario’s positivity rate for COVID-19 is 12%, and that is with restrictions on who is eligible.

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen De Villa, has called on the City to end the masking bylaw on March 12, according to the Toronto Star. It was originally set to expire in April after City Council voted to extend the bylaw in December. When reached for comment, a City of Toronto spokesperson said that a release would be issued later today.

While the news was welcomed by some, immunocompromised individuals and their loved ones are not so happy. They say that removing the mask mandates puts them at a much greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

Others have pointed out that no children under the age of five have been vaccinated as there is not yet a vaccine available to that age group. They say that lifting mask requirements will put them at greater risk.

According to CBC, Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table was not part of this decision. The head of the Table, Dr. Peter Juni, called the move political and not based on science.

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