Local efforts position Grey-Bruce for safe lifting of provincial masking mandate
Dr. Ian Arra, Grey-Bruce’s top doctor, says the great efforts of the public and partners in Grey-Bruce in following public health recommendations well positions our communities for a safe and successful lifting of masking mandates for most indoor settings.
The local Medical Officer of Health supports the government of Ontario’s plan to lift on March 21 masking requirements for most indoor public settings, including schools and stores.
Dr. Arra says the plan is measured and the timing is appropriate based on current data and trends related to COVID-19.
“The mandatory masking policies, local and provincial, served their purpose and protected people from COVID-19,” Dr. Arra says.
“With provincial and local public health indicators continuing to improve and based on current vaccination rates, the timing is right to end the universal requirement for masking in indoor public places that are not considered high-risk.”
Implementing the least restrictive policies possible in order to protect the population’s health is consistent with the principle of least intrusive, one of the key principles of public health, Dr. Arra says.
“In keeping with this principle, universal masking policies should be lifted as soon as possible, so long as it is safe to do so,” he says.
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore announced Wednesday the province’s plan to remove its masking mandate for most indoor public settings on March 21. Masking requirements will still be in place for high-risk settings such as hospitals, long-term care homes, congregate care settings, shelters and public transit.
Moore says the province’s high vaccination rates and arrival of antivirals means Ontario has the tools to manage the virus’s impact and we are now learning to live with and manage COVID-19 for the long-term.
Dr. Arra is urging people to be kind to individuals who opt to continue wearing face masks in stores, restaurants and other lower-risk public settings after March 21.
Grey-Bruce implemented a mandatory mask policy for enclosed public places in July 2020 through an order issued by the medical officer of health. The order was renewed in September 2020.
The provincial masking mandate came into effect in October 2020 during the pandemic’s second wave.
Dr. Arra says the data show the vast majority of Grey-Bruce residents followed masking requirements.
“Our ability to lift the mandatory masking policy later this month is, in large part, due to the efforts of Grey-Bruce residents, who did everything they could to protect others and themselves from the spread of COVID-19,” he says.
The Grey Bruce Health Unit reminds people that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 remains the best defence against severe disease and complications.
For More Information:
To connect with Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ian Arra, please contact:
Denis Langlois, communications co-ordinator
Grey Bruce Health Unit
519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456 ext. 1315