As of Monday, March 21, masks are optional in most indoor public places in Ontario.
However, masks are still required aboard public transit, inside health care facilities, and group homes.
“While this does not signal that COVID-19 has disappeared or that the pandemic is over, it does mean that we have come to a place where we know what we need to do to manage this virus and to keep each other safe,” said Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore when the end of the mandatory mask mandate was announced on March 9.
Moore reminded Ontario residents to respect those who still choose to wear masks.
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, the Medical Officer of Health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) also emphasized that people may still wear masks if they want to.
“If people want to wear a mask after the 21st, it’s their right,” Roumeliotis said on March 9 in his final, scheduled COVID-19 press conference.
Roumeliotis was hoping the mask mandate for schools would last a bit longer after the March school break to allow school boards and staff to prepare for and assess what happens after March 21.
“I was hoping it would be another two weeks,” Roumeliotis said.
Daily screening and cohort grouping for students in public schools also ended on March 21.
As of March 21, mandated passive COVID-19 screening and COVID-19 safety plans for workplaces across Ontario also ended.
Individual Medical Officers of Health could still issue specific mandates for their regions, but that is unlikely to happen at the EOHU.
“I don’t see any need for it,” Roumeliotis said.
The rate of COVID-19 infection among residents of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s (EOHU) territory has decreased considerably since the peak of the omicron-variant wave in January.
As of Monday, March 21, the COVID-19 positivity rate among the population of the area served by the EOHU was 10.7 per cent. There were three institutional outbreaks of COVID-19 and four hospitalizations. No COVID-19 patients across the EOHU’s territory were in intensive care as of March 21.
In Hawkesbury, 82.3 per cent of eligible residents received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. For the second dose, 80 per cent of residents received a vaccination, and 54.8 per cent received a third vaccination. In Champlain Township, Alfred and Plantagenet Township, and La Nation Municipality, 86.7 per cent of eligible residents received a first dose, 84.9 per cent received a second dose, and 55.6 per cent received a third dose.