Ontario mask mandate for public transit, hospitals extended to June 11

By CityNews Staff

Ontario’s remaining mask mandate for long-term care, hospitals, and public transit is being extended until June 11.

The Health Minister’s office confirmed the extension to CityNews on Friday.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore had previously indicated the mandate for high-risk settings – which was set to expire on April 27 – could continue amid a rise in sixth wave COVID-19 infections.

“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,” Moore said in a statement released Friday.

Premier Doug Ford said last week he would have “no problem” extending the remaining mask mandates beyond the end of the month based on Dr. Moore’s recommendation.

Mayor John Tory told Breakfast Television on Wednesday he is in support of continuing the mask mandate. “I wish they would just get on the saying that’s what’s going to happen because Dr. Moore hinted at it.”

“I just think that most people accept the fact that wearing a mask is a prudent thing to do. You see very good compliance with it on the TTC,” added Tory. “There was maybe a bit of a dip when people were confused about the rules but I think people are back up wearing the masks again.”

Health officials say they will start to receive supplies of Evushld, an antibody treatment for immunocompromised individuals who are not positive for COVID-19 at the time of administration. The treatment, which involves two single-dose injections and provides protection from COVID-19 for six months, is expected to be available “in the coming weeks.”

“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,” said Minister of Health Christine Elliott.

Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table released new projections last week that said the sixth wave of COVID-19 had likely plateaued or started to decline, but there is “significant uncertainty” around the impact of case growth on the provincial health system and deaths.

The panel noted that hospitalizations would likely continue to increase for some time.

Head of the science table, Dr. Peter Juni, said this week that wastewater data shows a possible peak and the number of health-care workers testing positive for COVID-19 has plateaued. He says a jump in infections is expected following the recent holiday weekend, but it would likely be small.

The mask mandate for public transit in Ottawa has been extended, announced earlier this week from OC Transpo officials. 

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