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Hospitals in Waterloo Region, Guelph will still require masks when province lifts mandate

The main entrance at the Grand River Hospital in Kitchener. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Even though Ontario government will lift most COVID-19 masks mandates this weekend, hospitals in Waterloo Region, Guelph and Fergus say that their face-covering rules will remain in place for the time being.

“The science tells us how COVID is spread and that has not changed,” says Marianne Walker, President and CEO of Guelph General Hospital.

Read more: Most remaining Ontario COVID mask mandates lifting on Saturday

“We care for the most vulnerable patients and masking is one way we can keep them safe.”

Walker, who is also the lead for the Waterloo Wellington Hospital COVID-19 response, went on to say that “maintaining safety measures at our hospitals helps protect patients and staff. They also reduce the opportunity for outbreaks to occur in hospital settings which can affect our ability to provide and ramp up our services.”

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The list of hospitals which will continue to require masks includes Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener as well as Cambridge Memorial Hospital, Guelph General Hospital and Groves Memorial Community Hospital in Fergus.

On Wednesday afternoon, the province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said that most of Ontario’s remaining COVID-19 mask mandates will be lifted on Saturday, although masking will still be required in long-term care and retirement homes.

“To continue providing an additional layer of protection for the most vulnerable, masks will still be required in long-term care and retirement homes. Masking is recommended in higher-risk congregate living settings, such as shelters and group homes,” Moore said.

Read more: Remaining Ontario COVID-19 mask mandates set to expire this week

Moore said that organizations can still implement their own masking policies.

“Ontarians should continue to wear a mask if they feel it is right for them, are at high risk for severe illness, recovering from COVID-19, have symptoms of the virus or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19,” he said.

— With files from Global News’ Ryan Rocca

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