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Ontario mask mandate will likely be reviewed in March, top doctor says

Face covering posters outside a store. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

Ontario’s top doctor says the province’s mask mandate will likely be reviewed in March.

Dr. Kieran Moore made the remarks during his weekly COVID-19 update on Thursday.

Moore said he anticipated a review will be done in the second or third week of March, allowing for data to be reviewed after the province lifts capacity limits and the proof of vaccination requirement on March 1.

“If and when we transition, it would be from a mandate to mask, to a recommendation to mask,” Moore said.

Read more: Vaccine policies ‘no longer necessary,’ Ontario top doc wants to remove them March 1

“I would certainly hope that vulnerable members of our community that are at risk for this virus, that are immune suppressed or transplant patients, in public spaces would continue to mask.”

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He said the mandate will be reviewed for all settings, including public transit and schools.

Moore previously indicated that if the mask mandate is lifted for most public areas, it would likely remain in place for public transit and schools a bit longer.

Again on Thursday, he said masks could still be mandated for certain settings after being lifted for others.

“It could, but we absolutely want to look at the risk at a population level and make sure that we’re in a safe place across Ontario, across all regions because this would be removing it for all Ontarians and we know that there are some regional differences,” he said.

“But you have our assurance that we’re going to review all measures, including masking, and we’ll make the removal at a population level when it’s the safest time for Ontarians but ensure that those that are vulnerable feel confident to continue to wear them to best protect themselves.”

Moore said “we all need a break” from masks, but noted they may be needed again in the fall if Omicron surges again.

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Last week, Moore indicated that Ontarians would soon be presented with a timeline for the removal of all COVID-19 public health measures.

On Monday, the province sped up its reopening plan, with more capacity limit changes being made Thursday as opposed to Feb. 21. Also on March 1, all capacity limits will be lifted for indoor public settings and the proof of vaccination requirement will be removed.

However, in Monday’s announcement, the province did not provide a timeline for the removal of the mask mandate.

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