DAN CEARNS, The Standard
NORTH DURHAM/KAWARTHA: The Ontario government has confirmed the masking requirement will be lifted for most settings in the province, later this month.
“With continued improvement in trends, Ontario will remove the mandatory masking requirement for most settings, on March 21st, with the exception of select settings such as public transit, health care settings, long-term care homes and congregate care settings,” a statement, released on Wednesday, March 9th, from Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore read.
However, people can continue to wear masks after March 21st if they choose to.
“As a society, we must remain kind, considerate and respectful toward those who continue wearing a mask. We must also expect indicators, such as cases and hospitalizations, to increase slightly as Ontarians increasingly interact with one another. However, thanks to our high vaccination rates and natural immunity, as well as the arrival of antivirals, Ontario has the tools necessary to manage the impact of the virus,” the Chief Medical Officer stated.
Dr. Moore also stressed this “does not signal COVID-19 has disappeared or the pandemic is over.”
During a virtual media information session, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Natalie Bocking explained, she expects some individuals will continue to wear masks.
“While provincial requirements might be changing, I think we will continue to see mask use and I would still encourage mask use in highest risk settings, or for individuals who have compromised immune systems, or for family members. There’s lots of different reasons why people will continue to wear a mask,” she said.
She also stated, it’s important for citizens to respect people’s choices when it comes to mask wearing.
“The most important thing is we continue to treat people with respect and understand there’s lots of reasons why people will continue to wear masks,” Dr. Bocking said. “Masks are an easy, effective tool we know works. I think it’s very unfortunate, in some settings, they’ve become divisive. I’d much prefer to focus on our ability, to use masks, to help protect those who are most vulnerable in the community and respect individuals’ and businesses’ [who] continue to want to protect those people.”