Most of Ontario’s remaining COVID-19 mask mandates will be lifted on Saturday, but masking will still be required in long-term care and retirement homes, the province’s chief medical officer of health says.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Kieran Moore said as of 12 a.m. on June 11, the province will no longer require masks to be worn on public transit.
Directives will also be revoked and replaced with guidance from the Ministry of Health for health-care workers and organizations.
“To continue providing an additional layer of protection for the most vulnerable, masks will still be required in long-term care and retirement homes. Masking is recommended in higher-risk congregate living settings, such as shelters and group homes,” Moore said.
Moore noted that organizations may still implement their own masking policies if they choose to do so.
“Ontarians should continue to wear a mask if they feel it is right for them, are at high risk for severe illness, recovering from COVID-19, have symptoms of the virus or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19,” he said.
Moore said because of Ontarians following public health measures and getting vaccinated, “significant progress” has been made in the fight against COVID.
“However, I want to remind Ontarians to stay home when sick and, most importantly, get vaccinated and boosted if eligible,” he said.
“Staying up to date with vaccination is the best protection against severe outcomes and will help us maintain the progress we have made.”
Moore said the province will continue to monitor for any significant changes in COVID-19 trends and variants of concern “to ensure we are adapting our response to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians.”
Some hospitals indicated Wednesday that they would keep masking policies in place.
A spokesman for Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare in Windsor, Ont., said the hospital intends “to continue with the mask mandate which includes the requirement for everyone to have a mask on in our hospital at all times.”
Two other hospitals in the region, Windsor Regional Hospital and Erie Shores Healthcare, also said they would keep masking rules for all visitors, staff and most patients, to protect elderly and immune compromised patients.
Toronto’s University Health Network said the same.
“We treat some of the most-immune compromised patients, and we are committed to providing the safest possible environment for everyone in the hospital,” spokeswoman Gillian Howard said.
The Toronto Transit Commission said masking will no longer be required on its conventional system as of Saturday, but will be strongly recommended.
Masks will still be required for customers and employees on Wheel-Trans.
“The decision not to introduce a new mandate on the conventional TTC system was made following discussions with public health officials and other transit agencies in the Greater Toronto Area, ensuring consistent rules for transit customers across the region,” a TTC statement said.
The province’s mask mandate for most indoor public settings lifted on March 21, but rules were kept in place for settings deemed higher risk.
Mandates for those settings were previously set to be lifted on April 27, but were extended to June 11.
— With files from The Canadian Press
Provincial mask mandates for public transit lifted effective Saturday.
The #TTC strongly recommends continued use when riding the conventional system.
Masks remain mandatory on Wheel-Trans (staff & customers), a decision made in consultation with our accessible transit advisors. pic.twitter.com/FYQVQFfzy4
— TTC Media Relations 📰🚌🚋🚈 (@TTCNewsroom) June 8, 2022
BREAKING: Ontario’s CMOH is dropping the mandatory masking mandate for hospitals, public transit as of June 11, but is extending the mandate for LTC and retirement homes.
— Colin D'Mello | Global News (@ColinDMello) June 8, 2022
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