When you still need to wear a mask: Quebec's new rules explained

·3 min read
A face mask decorated a sculpture outside of Montreal's McGill University for part of the pandemic. Quebec was the last province to lift its mandate last weekend. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - image credit)
A face mask decorated a sculpture outside of Montreal's McGill University for part of the pandemic. Quebec was the last province to lift its mandate last weekend. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Since last Saturday, Quebecers no longer have to wear a mask in most indoor spaces across the province.

The province's mandatory mask mandate has been in place since July 2020, for a total of 21 consecutive months. Quebec was the last province to drop its mandate.

However, masks will still be required in some places, at least for now. Here's what you need to know.

Where are masks no longer required?

Most indoor spaces in a Quebecer's daily life no longer require a mask, including grocery stores, gyms and restaurants.

Here's a list of places where masks are no longer required:

  • Retail businesses (including grocery stores and pharmacies)

  • Shopping malls

  • Restaurants and bars

  • Places of worship

  • Indoor fitness centres and gyms

  • Personal care businesses, such as spas and hairdressers

  • Cultural and sports venues with spectators

  • Government offices

However, Quebecers can still wear a mask indoors should they choose to. Likewise, a business can choose to impose its own mask rule.

WATCH | Quebecers react to the end of the mask mandate:

What about schools?

Both elementary and high schools have dropped mandatory masks.

Students will no longer be required to wear a mask for any of their activities, be it when they are in the classroom, in cafeterias or walking in hallways. The same applies to teaching staff.

Wearing a mask will also be optional in school transportation, given that students will have spent the entire day together.

Universities and CEGEPs may come up with their own rules requiring students and staff to wear masks.

When do I still need to wear a mask?

In Quebec, masks are still required on public transit, including taxis. Even if your destination doesn't require one, if you're hopping on a bus or a metro today, make sure you have a mask with you.

Dr. Luc Boileau, Quebec's interim public health director, said the province would consider lifting the public transit mandate at a later date, but no timeline has been given.

They're also required in health-care settings like hospitals, where it's more likely that vulnerable populations could potentially be exposed to COVID-19. (Mental health establishments do not require the mask, however.)

There are also still federal rules around mask wearing, specifically in federally regulated industries. So masks are still required when taking a plane or a train, including in airports and rail terminals.

Are there times when I should still wear one?

Yes. The Health Ministry specified that masks are still recommended in certain situations, such as when you're around vulnerable people, such as the immunocompromised, the elderly and those at risk of complications.

Boileau said people should also wear a mask when they have symptoms, saying "you don't need to be sure that it's COVID" to mask up and be prudent.

Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 must also wear a mask when close to or interacting with others, for the five days following their home isolation.

While Quebecers will be allowed to take off their masks in pharmacies, Quebec's order of pharmacists has asked people to keep them on. It said vulnerable people often go to the pharmacy, and wearing a mask would protect them and employees.

Experts have also flagged that masks don't only work to counter COVID-19 but also influenza, which is circulating widely in the province. So if you're worried about the flu, you can choose to stay masked up.

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