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Ontario extends remaining COVID mask mandates

Click to play video: 'Ontario extends high-risk mask mandates to June 11' Ontario extends high-risk mask mandates to June 11
WATCH: Ontario extends high-risk mask mandates to June 11 – Apr 22, 2022

Ontario is extending remaining mask mandates in higher-risk settings until June 11.

“To protect our progress in managing this latest wave, I am maintaining masking requirements in specific public settings where individuals who are, or may be, at increased risk of severe outcomes, are in close contact for extended periods of time,” the province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said in a news release Friday afternoon.

The mandate for settings deemed high-risk was set to expire on April 27.

Read more: Ontario’s top doctor to recommend extending COVID-19 mask mandate for hospitals, transit

“Continuing to follow masking requirements and keeping up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations are the best ways we can prevent transmission and protect our friends, families, and our communities,” Moore said.

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The mask mandate applies to public transit, health-care settings, long-term care and retirement homes, as well as shelters and other congregate care settings that provide services to “medically and socially vulnerable individuals,” the province said.

Moore told Global News in an interview that it could be lifted prior to June 11 if the data supports such a decision.

A full list of the settings where masking is still required is available here.

The province said remaining directives from Moore will also remain in effect until June 11, “after which the ministry will issue guidance on personal protective equipment recommendations for infection prevention and control in health-care settings.”

The province said it has the tools necessary to manage the impact of COVID-19, noting the high vaccination rate, expansion of booster shots, and access to antivirals.

Read more: Here’s who is eligible for free COVID PCR testing, anti-viral assessment in Ontario

Officials also announced that Ontario will start to receive shipments of Evusheld, which is an antibody treatment for those who are immunocompromised.

The province said that after two doses — administered when an individual is not positive for COVID-19 — Evusheld provides protection from COVID for six months.

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It was approved by Health Canada on April 14. Ontario is expecting its first shipment in late April and further deliveries in May and June.

The province said Evusheld will be made available to those at highest-risk of a severe outcomes from COVID, including:

  • solid organ transplant recipients
  • stem cell transplant recipients
  • CAR-T therapy recipients
  • other hematologic cancer patients undergoing treatment

Earlier Friday, Health Minister Christine Elliott was asked by a reporter at an unrelated press conference whether the province would be extending the mandate for high-risk settings beyond April 27 and announcing the decision ahead of time to avoid confusion.

“Yes. Dr. Moore is recommending that we extend the deadline past April 27 for mask wearing in hospitals, long-term care homes, congregate living settings — where people are the most vulnerable — and there will be more information coming on that particular issue later today,” Elliott said in response.

Read more: Ontario COVID numbers: 1,591 people in hospital, 214 in intensive care

Elliott and Premier Doug Ford have repeatedly said they would follow Moore’s advice regarding masking.

Last week, Moore told The Canadian Press that he would be submitting a proposal to the government for an extension beyond April 27.

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The province’s mask mandate for most indoor public settings lifted on March 21.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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