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Ontario removing masking mandates in ‘most settings’ on March 21

Wednesday, March 09, 2022 @ 3:12 PM | By Amanda Jerome

On March 9, the Ontario government announced it would remove “mandatory masking requirement for most settings on March 21, with the exception of select settings such as public transit, health-care settings, long-term care homes and congregate care settings.”

“With the peak of Omicron behind us, Ontario has been able to cautiously and gradually move through its reopening milestones,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, chief medical officer of health, in a statement.

While Moore noted the mandatory masking requirement would be lifted, he stressed that “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,” he added.

“While this does not signal that COVID-19 has disappeared or that the pandemic is over, it does mean that we have come to a place where we know what we need to do to manage this virus and to keep each other safe,” Moore explained, noting that people “need to remain vigilant.”

“We need to stay home when sick. And, most importantly, we need to get vaccinated and boosted,” he said, stressing that “vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19 and the best protection for the progress we have made.”

According to a brief released by the government, the Reopening Ontario Act will expire on March 28 and all remaining masking requirements in all settings will end on April 27. New guidance on case and contact management and isolation have been issued in the brief and the province’s COVID-19 data reporting will also change.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) released a statement calling the government’s decision to lift the mask mandate premature.

“Throughout the pandemic, Ontarians have relied on public health officials to lead with a science- and evidence-based approach. Unfortunately, it appears that a fast-approaching June election is influencing politicians’ decisions to lift COVID-19 safety measures,” said Karen Brown, president of the ETFO.

“Lifting the mask mandate too soon may result in further disruption to in-person learning and negative impacts on the health and safety of ETFO members, students and their families. Ontarians deserve stability and safety, not more chaos,” she added in a statement.

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