Ontario officials on Wednesday said the province was dropping its mandate for universal masks weeks after truck drivers paralyzed Ottawa amid protests over coronavirus restrictions.
dr. Kieran Moore, the county health officer, said at a news conference that the county would end mask duty in most places on March 21, though he added that “removing the mask mandate does not mean the risk is gone. †
The move comes about a month after a caravan of truck drivers occupied the streets of Ottawa for three weeks, outraging residents and encouraging copying movements as they protested the Canadian government’s pandemic measures.
Ontario did not immediately change its policy, but on March 1, health authorities lifted the requirement for vaccine verification at local companies and lifted indoor capacity limits.
dr. Moore said on Wednesday that because case trends have generally been “downward or stable” since those restrictions were lifted, most people should not wear masks indoors, including in schools.
Masks will still be mandatory on public transport and in healthcare facilities, said Dr. Moore.
“We are now learning to live with Covid-19 and manage it for the long term,” he said, adding that he expected a small increase in the number of cases and hospitalizations as more people interacted.
dr. However, Moore said people in Ontario should be prepared to wear masks indoors again if another variant shows up or if cases increase during the winter.