Ontario strongly recommends masking indoors, but won’t mandate it

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health is now strongly recommending that Ontarians wear face masks in all indoor public settings. Dr Kieran Moore made the recommendation at a news conference on Monday, but he did not reintroduce a mask mandate.

“In response to the worsening trends and existing challenges for our healthcare system, I’m strongly recommending that all Ontarians, not just those at high-risk, wear masks in indoor public settings,” Moore said, noting that children between the ages of two and five should only wear masks with supervision if they can safely tolerate masking, and can put the masks on and take them off.

Moore stated that pediatric hospitals across the province are dealing with a “triple threat”, that is, the unprecedented surge of sick children due to COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus, and influenza, which, says Moore, requires our collective action to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, “to ensure that our healthcare system remains able to care for Ontarians when they need it”.

“I’m reminding Ontarians to get back to using all the layers of protection that we know work to keep ourselves and others healthy” Moore stated, reminding Ontarians to screen themselves daily for signs of illness and stay home when sick. “Stay up to date with your vaccines, get your COVID-19 bivalent booster dose and your flu shot. Both are safe and effective and can be received at the same time.”

The Ontario Medical Association tweeted their support of the mask recommendations, noting how some pediatric hospitals and clinics are at capacity and are limiting services due to the increase in respiratory viruses. According to the OMA, both children and adults were protected from these viruses during the pandemic because of public health measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID, such as mandatory masking and physical distancing.

“Wearing a mask is one of the most effective things you can do to protect yourself and the people around you,” OMA President Dr. Rose Zacharias said in a statement. “We strongly recommend people wear masks in public indoor spaces, especially when they are with children, the elderly or other vulnerable people.”

Reaction from the public is mixed across social media, with some refusing to wear masks, and others stating that the government isn’t doing enough—that they should reimplement mask mandates.

Click here for more COVID-19 Ontario updates.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO