Ontario says it won't change vaccine passport or mask rules like Alberta and Saskatchewan
Now that Saskatchewan and Alberta have become the first provinces in Canada to get rid of proof-of-vaccination and mandatory masking rules in some indoor public spaces, Ontario residents have been calling for, or at least anticipating, our government to do the same.
But, though there's been lots of chatter about Premier Doug Ford potentially following in his peers' footsteps and announcing a plan to amend the two ubiquitous COVID-19 health and safety measures, his team today told residents that there is no intention to do so anytime soon, regardless of what other parts of the country are doing.
When questioned on the topic in an unrelated press conference on Wednesday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said that the Ford administration has "already set out our opening timelines" and has "no plans currently to drop the passport vaccination situation or masking."
Just over a million people living in Saskatchewan. Over 14 million in Ontario. More people living in Toronto. A wee bit different wh n fighting a virus— Lynne/CarlynServices (@CarlynServices) February 8, 2022
"We believe that masking is going to be important for some time to come," she continued, adding that the province relies on the advice of its chief medical officer of health and COVID-19 Science Advisory Table when creating public policy, not on the moves of other provinces.
"We always said that we were going to take a very cautious, phased, prudent approach to opening up and that's the path that we're going to follow."
Ford himself likewise said in an interview at the end of January — before the prairie provinces announced and end to their directives — that though Ontario will ease up on its rules for things like masking "eventually," he can't say they will come to an end in the foreseeable future.
While Saskatchewan is nixing its proof-of-vaccination policy on Feb. 14 and all masking policies at the end of the month, Alberta has already gotten rid of its vaccine passport orders as of midnight Tuesday night, and is removing mask mandates for students and children 12 and under in any setting starting Monday.
Quebec has also revealed its plans to slowly loosen restrictions, though the two controversial measures will be staying for the time being. P.E.I. just announced its timeline for dropping measures, too, with masking and vax passes on the way out starting April 7.
Ontario, meanwhile, mentions no changes to the current protocols for wearing face coverings or showing vaccine passports in any phase of its new reopening plan, which extends into March.
Elliott did say that the province wants to remove restrictions "as soon as we can," though gradually and based on the recommendations of the health experts.
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