COVID-19 in Canada: Will you continue to wear a mask in indoor public spaces?

·4 min read
COVID-19 in Canada: Will you continue to wear a mask in indoor public spaces?

Masking rules came into question this week as several provinces, including Ontario, have removed mask mandates.

"As we move into a transition phase of the pandemic and beyond, our best advantage going forward will be to maintain vigilance and not forget the personal protective habits we have learned," a statement from Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer reads. "At the individual level, this can be best achieved by keeping COVID-19 vaccinations up-to-date, including getting a booster dose when eligible and continuing to observe public health advice tailored to local epidemiology and circumstances."

"In particular, properly wearing a well-fitted and well-constructed face mask, avoiding crowding, and getting the best ventilation possible in indoor spaces, are layers of protection that can reduce your risk in all settings."

Test positivity across Canada from March 16 to March 22 was 14.5 per cent, which the chief public health officer identified as "indicating still widespread activity across the country," while hospitalization are down by 7.5 per cent week-over-week.


On Monday, Ontario's mask mandate officially lifted in most indoor public settings, including schools, which was met with some significant criticism, including from doctors and parents.

"We have a stronger, more stable healthcare system, more capacity in the hospitals and we've learned a lot over the last little while," Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Friday. "We also have the antiviral pills that are coming online as well, and we have the immunity throughout the province."

"I'll always be the cautious one. We've built up some resilience, we've built up the immunity, we have the highest vaccination rates in the entire world. Everyone in Ontario really pitched in and have done an incredible job, so I think we're doing well."


Looking at wastewater sampling in Alberta, the BA.2 strain is now the most dominant variant in the province.

"Based upon the wastewater numbers, it's clear that COVID isn't over yet. We're not out of the woods yet," Kevin Frankowski, the executive director of Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets (ACWA) at the University of Calgary told CBC News. "It's important to remain vigilant."

As COVID-19 rules continue to loosen in Alberta, healthcare workers in the province who have been on unpaid leave because they did not receive COVID-19 vaccines can return to work on March 31, when the mandate lifts.


Quebec’s interim public health director Luc Boileau stressed this week that it is too soon to determine if the province is in a sixth wave of the pandemic, as the BA.2 variant now makes up more than half of confirmed cases in the province.

"Right now we do not regret those steps that have been implemented progressively for taking some measures out of...our reality now and it favours, of course, more contacts," he said.

"We are not surprised by the [rise] in cases in hospitals, we're not expecting those to be as high as they were two months ago and we're following the situation very carefully."

Next week, fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be made available to some Quebecers, including residents in long-term care and seniors homes, and individuals over the age of 80.

Nova Scotia

Most public health restrictions across Nova Scotia were lifted on Monday but masking in public schools will remain for some additional time, for staff, students and visitors during school hours and on school buses.

"I know there will be mixed emotions among students and parents about the decision to keep masks on for a little longer," a statement from Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston reads.

"But when we have new information, we reassess. This week, eight of our province’s leading pediatric doctors spoke up. After speaking with Dr. (Robert) Strang and Dr. (Andrew) Lynk, and listening carefully, we felt this change made sense. For everyone else, you don’t need restrictions to keep wearing your mask and doing what makes sense to protect yourself and others."

British Columbia

As of March 23, free rapid antigen test kits were made available to all adults in B.C. from community pharmacies.

Each person can pick up one kit of five tests every 28 days. They must present their personal health number and if others are picking up kits on their behalf, the individual’s name, personal health number and date of birth must also be provided at the pharmacy.

The provincial government is advising adults in B.C. to pick up a test kit when they are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

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