masks ontario

Mask mandates are finally ending in Ontario and here's what you need to know

Ontario's mask rules have been some of the longest-running, but despite saying just weeks ago that they would keep mandating face coverings in public indoor spaces "for some time to come," the province's leaders have changed their stance in recent weeks as we leave remaining COVID restrictions behind.

And now, an end date has finally been set, according to insider sources.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said last month that her team would be sticking to its original reopening timelines — which notably made no mention of mask mandates — with no plans to drop the garment or vaccine passports anytime soon, even though other provinces were starting to do so.

Premier Doug Ford had likewise agreed that such protocols would not be loosening anytime soon, though the temporary measure would be lifted "eventually."

But then, amid calls to follow in the footsteps of Saskatchewan and Alberta, the province decided to shed the proof-of-vaccination system way sooner than planned, on March 1.

As Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore then reported some hopeful trends of key health indicators, he also hinted that residents could do away with masking as soon as two weeks after the onset of phase 3 of reopening, which would be in just a few days from now, on March 15.

In a press conference last week, Moore then reiterated that the rule would be nixed by the end of March, something that sources have now corroborated with an ultimate date of 12:01 a.m. on Monday, March 21.

At this time, mask mandates in retail stores, bars and restaurants, schools, and "most" settings will be eliminated, the sources say, per the CBC.

The date also coincides with the end of March Break and students' return to classrooms.

An official announcement on the topic is expected from Ford and his team later on Wednesday, when final details will be revealed.

Lead photo by

Dominic Bugatto

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