From a mandate to a choice – Ontario to lift most mask mandates March 21

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore announces an end to most mandated face mask wearing on March 21. (Ontario Parliamentary Channel)

TORONTO – Most of Ontario’s mask mandates will lift on March 21. Masks will only be required in health care settings, congregate living settings, and on public transit.

Dr. Kieran Moore, chief medical officer of health for Ontario announced the mask mandate changes at a press conference on March 9. He cited declining hospital and ICU admissions, and decreased outbreaks in long term care homes as the Omicron variant dissipates, for the reason for the change to mask mandates.

“With the peak of Omicron behind us, Ontario has been able to cautiously and gradually move through its reopening milestones,” he said. “We are now learning to live with and manage COVID-19 for the long term.”

Beginning March 21, wearing a face mask will be optional in most locations including retail stores, indoor dining, and at school. Moore recommended that those who are immunocompromised or at higher-risk of serious infection should keep wearing a mask indoors.

“It’s moving from a mandate to a choice,” Moore said encouraging people to be kind to those who still choose to wear a mask indoors.

If new variants reach the province, Moore said mask mandates could be reintroduced on a regional or province-wide basis.

“We should all be prepared that we may need to resume mask wearing,” he said.

Mandatory face masks will remain in place in long-term care homes and retirement homes, jails, congregate care settings like group homes, and at shelters. Riding on public transit will also require wearing a face mask.

Dropping mandatory face masking does not overrule any federal mandates still in place for travelling by train or airplane.

Schools will have other measures eased on March 21 as well. Those include the end of daily on-site screening and grouping of grades together.

Business requirements will be removed including having to have safety plans and passive screening of employees.

By April 27, all mask mandates everywhere, including long-term care will end in Ontario according to directives issued by Moore.

Remaining emergency orders in place under the Reopening Ontario Act will expire, as will directives from the Chief Medical Officer of Health. This includes provincial vaccine mandates for government employees.




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