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Mask mandates to be lifted March 21

Ontario plans to lift masking mandates on March 21, with remaining pandemic measures, orders and directives set to end on April 27.

The provincial government is shifting to putting more emphasis on personal responsibility, saying that key health indicators have improved enough to do so.

The province says schools and businesses will continue to receive PPE and rapid antigen tests, and individual organizations will have the authority to keep requirements in place as directives are revoked.

As of March 21, most locations including restaurants, stores and schools will no longer have to require masks, while certain settings like public transit and long term care homes will still require face coverings until April 27.

The news has been met with backlash from some Teachers Unions and hospitals who encourage people, especially kids in school, to continue masking if possible.

The Elementary Teachers Federation (EFTO) called the timing around lifting mandates “premature”.

“Lifting the mask mandate too soon may result in further disruption to in-person learning and negative impacts on the health and safety of ETFO members, students, and their families,” said EFTO President Karen Brown.

“Ontarians deserve stability and safety, not more chaos.”

Hospitals recently have expressed the sentiment that masking should continue as a precaution to protect youth and the most vulnerable at least until vaccination rates further improve.

On February 28 the Children’s Health Coalition including Sick Kids and CHEO shared a statement amidst calls for the end of the mask mandate saying the measures should continue for now.

Today the Coalition says they would have prefered masks to at least remain until two weeks after March Break, noting that most cases in schools originate from outside, and reiterated their support for wearing masks in schools.

Overall the news has been met with mixed reviews, with some saying masks should have been done away with long ago, well others want to at least see an approved vaccine for children under five before remaining masking and social distancing policies are lifted.

As soon as Wednesday the province will start seeing guidelines, with isolation requirements loosening for close contacts of positive cases.

Ontario reported 1,974 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, although the actual amount is expected to be much higher as PCR tests have been limited.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporterhttps://ygknews.ca
Born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, Owen has been living in Kingston for about three years after starting the band Willy Nilly. Prior to that he worked at CKLB radio in Yellowknife and completed studies in Niagara College's Broadcasting program.

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