All of Ontario's leaders want mask mandates back except for Doug Ford
After a lot of confusing back-and-forth on the subject, Ontario followed the lead of other provinces and jurisdictions worldwide in dropping its 17-month-long requirement for residents to use face coverings in most public indoor spaces on March 21.
While some rejoiced about the news, others were wary at best, with some individuals vowing to keep wearing the garment and some businesses, school boards and university campuses maintaining their own rules for its use.
Though Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore stand by their decision — Elliott said earlier this week that the measure need not return — others in government are expressing quite the opposite sentiment.
By now, we know what the situation is, we should stop wasting our effort on the politics and foucs on proper personal hygienes. Everywhere I go, i still see lots of masks, so at least my neighborhood is still okay.— PC (@peecee34) March 30, 2022
Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa stated in a media briefing on Monday that though she doesn't support the return of a blanket rule, that she encourages people to continue to sport their masks as often as possible while out and about.
And, Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table Director Dr. Peter Juni has said we lifted directives too early, and that leadership needs to continue at least the recommendation that people wear one.
Though these two public health officials are notoriously cautious (some would argue overly so), members of the opposition appear to hold the same beliefs.
Doug Ford dropped masks too soon. Now we’re paying the price. Ford can protect folks and keep hospitals from being overrun by updating masking, returning broad PCR testing and giving workers 10 paid sick days.— Andrea Horwath (@AndreaHorwath) April 7, 2022
If he won't, he and Dr. Moore need to step up to explain why. #ONpoli
Both the Liberals and the NDP have issued a call for Ford and his team to reinstate masking policies, and also to expand the eligibility for PCR testing so the province can get a better idea of COVID numbers, which wastewater data apparently suggests may be in the ballpark of 100,000 new cases a day provincewide — something Juni blames, in part, on the lack of masks.
Juni's science table has also recently said that Ontario and its residents should be prepared for the possibility that the government will "renew vaccine certificates requiring a recent booster dose for high-risk settings if needed" and "reintroduce mask mandates if needed."
The Science Table says Ontario should be prepared to renew mass vaccination campaigns and vaccine certificates (which would require a booster dose for high-risk settings).— Ahmad E. (@ahmadeofficial) March 17, 2022
The province should be prepared "to reintroduce mask mandates if needed," the table says. pic.twitter.com/tmC5eKSXcr
Thankfully, though cases may be far higher than formally recorded, the overall hospitalization rate for patients with COVID-19 in the province remains fairly low at 3.7 per cent, and the ICU rate, only 0.7 per cent.
The rate of Ontarians who died while infected with the virus and/or as a result of it is around one per cent, according to public health data. (And this is admitting that testing has been severely restricted, meaning that there are potentially millions more infections undocumented and this figure is likely, in reality, even lower.)
Masking remains obligatory on public transit, in healthcare settings, in high-risk congregate living settings such as long-term care homes and correctional facilities, and at airports and during air travel.
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