While there was no word on bringing back mask mandates this Friday, there was an announcement concerning the ones that remain. All remaining masking requirements in Ontario were scheduled to be lifted on April 27, but in the wake of the increased number of cases without a more general mask mandate, and the spread of the BA.2 variant, the Provincial government is now waiting till June 11 to get rid of those other mandates.
“To protect our progress in managing this latest wave, I am maintaining masking requirements in specific public settings where individuals who are, or may be, at increased risk of severe outcomes, are in close contact for extended periods of time,” said Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore in a statement Monday.
So until midnight on June 11, masks will still have to be worn in healthcare settings like hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics that provide health care services, laboratories, specimen collection centres, and home and community care. They will still have to be worn in long-term care homes, retirement homes, shelters and other congregate care settings that provide care and services to medically and socially vulnerable individuals. You will also still have to wear a mask on public transit for the time being.
“Continuing to follow masking requirements and keeping up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations are the best ways we can prevent transmission and protect our friends, families, and our communities,” Moore added.
This means that some mask mandates will remain until after the June 2 provincial election. At a press conference earlier this month, Moore said an extension of the last mask mandates was in the works, especially with the sixth wave of COVID cases not expected to crest until near the end of May. “Clearly, we think this wave is not going to be settling until the middle or end of May, and as a result, we’re looking at extension for all of those high risk facilities,” Moore said.
It was also announced on Friday that the Province will start receiving supplies of Evusheld, an antibody treatment for immunocompromised individuals who are not positive for COVID-19 at the time of administration. Evushield is a two dose regiment that offers six months of COVID-19 protection for people who are solid organ transplant recipients, stem cell transplant recipients, CAR-T therapy recipients, and other hematologic cancer patients undergoing treatment.
“Thanks to the province’s high vaccination rates as well as an increase in antiviral treatment availability and eligibility, we have been able to cautiously and gradually reopen Ontario,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott in a statement. “Vaccination remains our best protection against COVID-19, and I strongly recommend that everyone stays up to date with their vaccinations by receiving the dose you are eligible for as soon as you can. As with vaccines for other diseases, you are protected best when you stay up to date.”