Mask mandates could lift ‘within the next few weeks’: Elliott

According to the Ontario Minister of Health, the province may drop the mask mandates in the next few weeks. Christine Elliott says it's up to Dr. Moore but expects it to be soon.

By Lucas Casaletto

Ontario government officials continue to tease life without mask mandates with Christine Elliott as the latest to say the public health measure could soon lift.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Elliott said she expected that mask mandates in the province would lift “probably within the next few weeks,” depending on scientific advice from the province’s top doctor.

“I would anticipate that we would probably open up and reduce masking, both in schools as well as within the public at the same time,” Elliott told CityNews.

This comes one day after Premier Doug Ford hinted that mask mandates could soon be a thing of the past.

“We aren’t far away, so let’s all continue working together,” Ford said on Monday. “What I’m hearing… over the next few weeks, maybe after March Break.”

Elliott couldn’t provide a solid timeline when asked about that, only reiterating that the announcement will be made with consultation from Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore.

Ford has insisted that he and his government will drop the requirement to wear masks as soon as he can.

“We’ll wait for his [Dr. Moore’s] advice and recommendations, and once he gives us recommendations, we’ll be able to move forward,” Ford said. “There isn’t a person I talk to who likes these masks, no one likes them, but I have to follow the advice.”

Related stories:

Moore himself said last week that when mask mandates are removed from public settings, they will simultaneously be lifted in schools. The top doctor acknowledged that high-risk settings — such as public transit, long-term care and hospitals — would maintain masking policies even after they are no longer required in most public spaces.

The chief medical officer of health had previously said he wanted to end workplace COVID-19 vaccination policies in sectors such as hospitals and post-secondary institutions on March 1.

In the U.S., Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that New York will no longer require students to wear masks in schools as of Wednesday.

According to the new guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 70 per cent of the population is in a location with low or medium COVID-19 levels. In those areas, the CDC says masking is not necessary unless an individual is at “increased risk” for the virus.

New York’s Mayor announced on Sunday that as long as COVID-19 case counts continue to decline, Eric Adams says he intends to remove the indoor mask mandate for public school children on March 7.

On Tuesday, capacity limits were lifted in indoor public settings, and Ontario’s vaccine certificate system was dropped.

In recent weeks, the COVID-19 landscape has changed in the province as virus-related hospitalizations and test positivity rates have fallen sharply since then, though wastewater data suggests cases may be starting to rise again.

Ontario is reporting 16 new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday as hospitalizations are down more than 100 in the last week.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today