Ontario to lift most remaining mask mandates on June 11
Posted June 8, 2022 3:22 pm.
Last Updated June 10, 2022 7:15 am.
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health says most of the province’s remaining mask mandates are set to lift as of Saturday.
Provincial masking requirements on public transit, in various health care settings and long-term care homes, as well as retirement homes, were set to expire on April 27, but that deadline was extended to June 11.
Dr. Kieran Moore confirmed on Wednesday that the public health measure would continue to be gradually removed in most settings, including on public transit.
“With high vaccination rates and Ontario’s COVID-19 situation continuing to improve, most of the province’s remaining provincial masking requirements, including public transit, will expire as of 12:00 a.m. on June 11, 2022,” Ontario’s top doctor said.
Moore adds that 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.
The chief medical officer of health stressed that mask-wearing would continue to be optional and dependent on personal preference.
“While masking requirements are expiring, organizations may implement their own policies,” Moore continued. “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 with someone with COVID-19.”
Ontario’s top doctor says people with COVID-19-like symptoms should stay home and isolate themselves until they feel better. He also encouraged everyone to get vaccinated and boosted if eligible.
Most COVID-19 indicators have drastically improved since the mandate was extended at the end of April. Ontario’s hospitalizations were slightly down from 526 on Tuesday and 722 last week.
On Wednesday, Ontario reported its lowest COVID-19 test positivity rate in six months.
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.
Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children said it would also keep a universal masking policy after Saturday due to its “uniquely vulnerable patient population” with children that are immunocompromised and not all eligible for vaccination against COVID-19
TTC encouraging transit riders to wear a mask
Shortly after Dr. Moore’s statement, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) officials issued one of their own, strongly encouraging transit riders to continue to wear a mask while aboard public transportation.
TTC chair Jaye Robinson says that while the positive indicators are promising, COVID-19 has not disappeared.
“Wearing a mask is a small measure we all can take to help keep our communities safe,” Robinson said in a joint statement with TTC President Rick Leary.
“Although no longer mandatory on the TTC as of Saturday, we strongly recommend the continued use of masks,” Leary continued. “Safety is paramount to all we do. Throughout the pandemic, we have made decisions based on public health advice while following all provincial mandates.”
The TTC announced masks would remain mandatory for customers and employees using Wheel-Trans.
The transit commission first announced a mandatory mask policy for employees in July 2020. Masking on public transit has been mandated by the province since October of that year.
TTC officials note that the decision not to introduce a new masking mandate on Toronto’s public transit system was made in consultation with public health officials and other transit agencies in the GTA.
“Over the coming days, customers will begin hearing new announcements, seeing new signs and posters throughout the system, and refreshed social media content reflecting the new advice.”
Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report