Mask mandates come to a predictable and unceremonious end this Saturday with only a couple of exceptions. Just a few days after the election, and announced with a simple media release on Wednesday, the Chief Medical Officer of Health says that outside long-term care and retirement homes, masks in Ontario will be optional as of June 11, but at least one Guelph institution says that the masks will stay on for now.
Back to the provincial level for a minute because in today’s media release, Dr. Kieran Moore said that masking is only recommended in higher-risk congregate living settings, such as shelters and group homes. Also ending at midnight on Friday are other directives from the Ministry of Health including guidance on when masks should be worn in hospitals and other health care settings.
“With high vaccination rates and Ontario’s COVID-19 situation continuing to improve, most of the province’s remaining provincial masking requirements, including on public transit, will expire as of 12:00 a.m. on June 11, 2022,” said Moore in a statement.
“While masking requirements are expiring, organizations may implement their own policies. 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 of someone with COVID-19.”
Here in Guelph, the General Hospital will not be quite so laissez faire with masks just yet. Marianne Walker, the president and CEO of Guelph General Hospital and Waterloo Wellington hospital regional lead for COVID-19 response, said in her own media release earlier today that masking at the General, and other regional hospitals she co-ordinates with, will be telling you to keep your mask on.
“The science tells us how COVID is spread and that has not changed. We care for the most vulnerable patients and masking is one way we can keep them safe,” Walker said. “Maintaining safety measures at our hospitals helps protect patients and staff. They also reduce the opportunity for outbreaks to occur in hospital settings which can affect our ability to provide and ramp up our services.”
The last word on this subject came at the end of April when Moore and the Ontario government extended the remaining mask mandates for hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, laboratories, and home and community care, other congregate care settings that provide care and services to medically and socially vulnerable individuals, and public transit until June 11.
Wellignton-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health released the new COVID-19 case count for the region on Wednesday, and there are now just 98 active cases in the area, which is the lowest number of total cases we’ve seen since early December. The 7-day moving rate of confirmed cases is now down to 26 per 100,000 and the test positivity rate is 5.7 per cent.
“The province will continue to monitor for any significant changes, including any new variants of concern, to ensure we are adapting our response to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians,” Moore added. “I want to remind Ontarians to stay home when sick and, most importantly, get vaccinated and boosted if eligible.”