The Ministry of Health (MOH) is moving to a long-term plan to manage and live with COVID-19.
That includes lifting all vaccine mandates in schools, hospitals, long-term care homes, and other settings where employees previously had to be fully vaccinated to continue to work. However, the MOH says individual organizations can continue to enforce their own policies. The new policy goes into effect on March 14th.
On March 21st, masks will no longer be required in most public settings including schools. Also being lifted on the 21st in all schools will be the requirement for cohorting and daily screening.
Masks will still be required on public transit, in long-term care and retirement homes, hospitals, shelters, jails, congregate care, and living settings including homes for individuals with developmental disabilities.
However, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health says masks can still provide an extra layer of protection against the virus and people should continue to be “kind’ to people who choose to wear a mask.
For businesses and employers passive screening and safety plans will no longer be required on the 14th of March.
On April 27th, all mask mandates will be dropped for all settings and all remaining emergency orders will be lifted.
Throughout this plan, the province will continue to provide rapid antigen tests and personal protective equipment.
The number of admissions to hospitals and intensive care units continues to decline and evidence of COVID-19 in wastewater has also dropped. These are key public health indicators the province continues to monitor.
The head of Ontario’s Science Table says this decision was not based on science but on political pressure. That’s a statement Premier Doug Ford says is not true, “Let me be very clear, there’s no pressure on Dr. Moore I follow the advice and the recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Ontario and he consults with the science table.”
“We’re going to take his advice on the time frame moving forward with the masks. You look around the word no matter if it’s the CDC down in the U.S. and the rest of the world, we’ve been super cautious, matter of fact I have probably been accused of being the most cautious leader in North America when it comes to the pandemic and I want to be cautious but we are going to take those recommendations and move forward with the advice of Dr. Moore.”
Ford says no one has a crystal ball when it comes to the future of COVID-19 and he says his government is always going to be cautious and keep a close watch on key public health indicators.
Premier Doug Ford says anyone who wants to keep wearing a mask will be welcome to. He says the decision will be up to each individual person.