The mask mandate in most public spaces in Quebec has officially ended, with the exception of public transit, hospitals, clinics, CHSLDs, and for those who test positive for COVID and are out of their isolation period. Masks won’t be required in mental-health facilities.
Public health still recommends masks for some – including the most vulnerable and the immunocompromised.
Many are still left with questions and Dr. Christopher Labos, Montreal cardiologist and epidemiologist, has you covered.
With the mask mandate dropped, what does this mean? Is this a real return to normal?
Well, it depends what you mean by normal. I mean, the situation is obviously improving in Quebec in terms of the number of hospitalizations going down. That being said, we’ve been on the downslope of waves before. The real question is, are we going to see a resurgence because of new variant?
So, while things are getting better now, that doesn’t mean that they won’t get worse in the future. Just because things are going down doesn’t mean they won’t go back up again.
Public health is calling the COVID-19 situation very encouraging. Does this mean that we may be turning a corner in terms of the sixth wave? Or is there fear that we may see a seventh in the fall?
Well, I mean, the situation now is indeed improving. The sixth wave does seem to be on its downslope. So that’s true. Could there be a seventh wave in the fall? Yes, that’s entirely conceivable, especially when you’re having uncontrolled spread of COVID. In many other parts of the world.
New variants could emerge and cause future waves at some point in the future. I mean, we’ve been in this situation before. There were very few COVID cases in the summer last year. And then we had a resurgence because of the Delta and the Omicron variant.
So, we have to learn from the past and realize that while things may be okay now, we need to prepare for the future.
As of right now, masks are still mandatory in public transportation and hospitals. Do you think we may see the dropping of masks in those spaces?
I mean, we’ll see. But frankly, I would be surprised if that does happen. I mean, just wearing masks in hospitals just makes so much sense. It’s almost surprising that we weren’t doing it before. It’s sort of like, you know, a hockey goalie wearing a face mask.
Once one of them does it, everybody else realizes what a good idea it is. And so especially in settings like health-care and in public transportation. I’d be very surprised if the masks go away. I think they’re with us for good because they frankly, they make a difference and they help limiting the transmission of diseases, not just COVID, but everything else, too.
And what advice can you give to those who are immunocompromised or people who would like to keep the mask on?
I would keep doing it. There are many parts of the world where wearing a mask in public, especially during cold and flu season, is commonplace. And I think it’s going to become commonplace here. So, if you’re going to be, you know, in public, in an indoor setting with a bunch of other people, I would keep wearing the mask because COVID is still circulating, and the flu is still circulating and many other diseases are still circulating.