ontario masks

These are the rules for face masks during Step 3 in Ontario

As Ontario moves into Step 3 this month, many things will be different — we will finally get back to indoor dining, concerts and the gym — but one thing isn't changing: masks.

The province will move into Step 3 on July 16, Dr. Kieran Moore, the province's Chief Medical Officer of Health, announced in a press conference on July 9.

This will mean a return to many indoor public spaces but things aren't back to normal quite yet.

"Step 3 focuses on the safe resumption of additional indoor services with larger numbers of people but with restrictions in place," Dr. Moore said.

Gyms will open at 50 per cent capacity, movie theatres, concerts, and indoor dining will resume, he said.

In all these indoor venues, in addition to physical distancing, masks will still be required.

"Face coverings in indoor public settings (and) physical distancing requirements remain in place throughout Step 3," Dr. Moore said. "This is because of the ongoing threat of the Delta strain of COVID."

Face coverings will also be required in some outdoor public settings.

The requirement to wear a face covering is "generally in alignment with the advice on personal public health measures issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada and with the World Health Organization recommendations," he said.

Toronto has had a bylaw requiring face coverings in indoor public spaces since July 7, 2020 and the province made an Ontario-wide mandatory mask policy on Oct. 4.

Dr. Moore said he is very concerned about the spread of the Delta variant and other new strains.

"The Delta variant is the dominant strain in Ontario and it continues to pose a threat to public health," he said.

Ontario's situation is different than other provinces such as Alberta and British Columbia, he added.

Ontario will remain in Step 3 for at least 21 days, and the regulation to wear masks will likely end after Step 3 ends if COVID-19 can be kept under control.

Dr. Moore said he will continue to a wear mask into the fall and winter this year as the virus is still transmittable even after vaccination.

"It will be my advice, my personal advice as the Chief Medical Officer of Health, to continue wearing a mask. I'll certainly wear one on the subway, on a bus, on the train throughout this winter," Dr. Moore said.

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