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The Canadian province of Ontario will eliminate the COVID-19 mask mandate in the latter March.
On Wednesday, Canada's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, announced that the COVID-19 mask mandate would be lifted in the province of Ontario. This measure is expected to be effective by March 21.
"We are now learning to live with and manage COVID-19 for the long term," said the top doctor Moore during his regular COVID-19 update. "This necessitates a shift to a more balanced response to the pandemic." He disclosed that the masks would no longer be required in schools, bars and restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters are also included in the measure that will be effective across the province.
The Canadian government stated that individuals are free to choose if they continue to wear masks in public after the date established. The mandatory vaccine will be gradually lifted from schools, child-care settings, hospitals, and long-term care homes by March 14.
For public places such as transit, long-term care homes, health-care settings, and shelters, the masks and face-covering mandate will remain at least until April 27. The Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) will be suspended by March 28, which allows authorities to issue public health directives at the provincial level. Despite all the emergency orders emitted by the ROA, it will be extended, remaining effective after the date for at least 30 days.
The Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, remarked on Wednesday at another press conference that wearing masks beyond the date established will depend on personal preference. "It's going to be up to the people of Ontario if you want to keep the mask on, keep it on," he said.
"If you want to take it off, take it off. But we have to move forward from this; people are exhausted and the poor kids in those classrooms too. Like we got to move on," Ford added.
The announcement came following the lifting of mandatory proof of vaccination requirement, capacity limits, and physical distancing. The reduction of the number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 since January has gradually eliminated the remaining COVID-19 mandates.