Despite Ontario lifting mask mandates from Saturday, some Londoners have no plans to remove the face coverings and local hospitals are also complying with the rules.
On Wednesday, the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health announced that most mandatory mask rules would be phased out on Saturday, including on public transport and in hospitals.
The London Transit Commission says it will follow provincial guidelines and allow passengers to board regular and special vehicles without face coverings.
“We will encourage people to respect each other’s choices regarding mask wearing if they choose to do so,” General Manager Kelly Paleczny said.
Patients and visitors will continue to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms at St Joseph’s Health Care London. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)
Masks are still mandatory in retirement homes
Masks will still be required in long-term care homes and retirement homes in Ontario after Saturday. But in southwestern Ontario, all hospitals have agreed to keep masks mandatory in the long term.
“Masks slow the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses and are a way to continue to protect our vulnerable patients and residents from potential exposure to COVID-19,” said Roy Butler, President and CEO of St. Joseph’s.
Patients and visitors are also screened upon entering St. Joe’s facilities.
dr Kieran Moore, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday he made the decision based on high vaccination rates and improvements in the province’s COVID-19 situation.
Not all medical experts are convinced it’s the right move, including the Ontario Science Table’s new scientific director. dr Fahad Razak said Thursday masks provide a buffer and while infection rates are falling, hospitals are still treating patients.
“I’m heartened to see that many hospitals have already announced they will continue to need them,” Razak said. “I suspect you’ll see that most institutions will require it.”
The London Health Sciences Center was caring for 19 patients with COVID-19 on Thursday and reported a COVID-19 outbreak at the university hospital.
Will you continue to wear a mask?
Opinions on the streets of central London were mixed when people were asked if and where they would wear masks.
“I worry about people who may have been exposed to and have contracted COVID and don’t know it. Or people who may still be contagious but have no symptoms. How does this affect me? I will continue to wear this mask,” said Katie Kortekaas.
Are you ready to take off your mask in public places? Where will you continue to wear a mask? Comments are open to respectful discussion and we’d love to hear your thoughts.