mask mandates ending ontario

It looks like Ontario is planning to scrap mask mandates by the end of this month

With nearly all COVID restrictions now lifted in Ontario and case counts rapidly declining, people across the province are wondering (with increasing urgency, it seems) about when we're all ditching the masks.

Mask mandates are the last major remaining public health measure in effect provincewide. This means that, while capacity limits are virtually gone and vaccine passports are no longer required by law, people are still required to wear masks when visiting indoor public settings.

Government officials have yet to hand down an exact date for lifting this rule, but have teased over the past week that mask mandates could be a thing of the past very soon.

Today, following comments made by Premier Doug Ford and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore during two separate press conferences, the imminent removal of mandatory face coverings almost seems like a certainty... as long as positive public health trends persist.

"There isn't a person out there that I talked to that says they like these masks," said Ontario Premier Doug Ford during an announcement in York Region on Thursday, reiterating that he's not a fan of forcing people to wear masks.

"But I always have followed the health and science. I'm always listening to the chief medical officer and I'm going to continue to listen to him and, hopefully, the recommendation will come over the next week or so."

The medical officer himself confirmed during his own press conference today that rumours of mask mandates being nixed after March break aren't as wild as some people may like to think.

When asked about the lifting of masking requirements, Moore told reporters today that "we don't have an exact date yet" but that "we'll be monitoring the data in the coming weeks."

"I do agree with the premier and the minister [of health, Christine Elliott] because the trends look so good that we can anticipate, if the trends continue, removing mandatory masking by the end of March."

That doesn't mean everyone can simply run around and cough with naked faces, however. Moore says that, while the risk of spreading COVID is getting lower and the worst of Omicron is behind us, the risk hasn't been completely annihilated.

"We would anticipate, as I've said, by the end of March, we'll have a declining risk," said Moore today. "And after that time period, it will not be mandatory, but I ask all Ontarians, if you're vulnerable to this virus, if you haven't received your full dose of vaccine… that you remain prudent."

Moore also called upon everyone to remain kind and considerate to those who choose to wear masks after it's no longer legally required.

"I do believe they are protective, they do decrease your personal risk," he said of masks. "But as the Cheif Medical Officer of Health, we can only mandate masking for so long."

"As long as the risk is decreasing, we'll make a decision together as a  province together to remove them," he continued. "But for those that are at high risk for this virus, I would suggest that you continue to wear them."

Lead photo by

Raychel Espiritu

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