Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has announced that the province will be lifting all COVID-19 public health measures in the coming weeks.
Beginning on March 21, 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 locations.
In addition to lifting masking mandates, people who have been exposed to COVID-19 will no longer need to isolate. Instead, anyone who has been exposed will be required to monitor for symptoms and avoid high-risk settings.
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If a household member has COVID-19, other people living in the house will not need to isolate if they have had a COVID-19 infection in the last 90 days, if they are over 18 and have had a booster shot or if they’re under 18 and full vaccinated.
The province will also be adjusting how it reports COVID-19 data beginning on March 11. It will report deaths by fatality type, indicating if a death was caused by COVID-19, if COVID-19 contributed to the death, and if COVID-19 was unrelated to the death.
All public health measures related to COVID-19 will come to an end on April 27.
When Premier Doug Ford was asked why he wasn’t with Dr. Moore to make the announcement, he said: “I’m not going to steal Dr. Moore’s thunder.”
With most public health measures coming to an end, so too do the weekly COVID-19 briefings in the province. Chief Medical Office of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said that Wenesday’s announcement was his last weekly COVID-19 briefing.
“I want to thank Ontarians for their resilience and commitment to community,” he said.
Last week, Dr. Moore told reporters that COVID-19 cases were likely 10 times higher than the daily reported amount. This means that the province is still seeing close to 20,000 new COVID-19 cases on a daily basis.
Reporters questioned Dr. Moore over the timing of the announcement, with restrictions being lifted just in time for Premier Doug Ford to begin his re-election campaign. He said that he did not take current politics into account when presenting his guidelines to the province.
The head of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table told CBC that the Table was not involved in the decision making process. Dr. Peter Juni said that the move to lift all restrictions is not based in science.