KAWARTHA LAKES-The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKRPDHU) is strongly encouraging residents to remain cautious and to continue to practice preventative measures against the spread of COVID-19 as the provincial mask mandate lifts on March 21, 2022.
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit says the COVID-19 pandemic is not over and that the risk of infection remains and that means it is important to get vaccinated and continue following basic prevention measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission, especially for those most vulnerable to the virus. Officials say this can include wearing a mask if individuals feel it is best for their own comfort level or personal situation and/or circumstances as well as settings at higher risk of virus spread such as crowded indoor locations.
“We know masks are an effective and easy way to slow the spread of COVID-19,” says Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Even after Ontario lifts its mask mandate, wearing a mask indoors is an important step that people can take to protect both themselves as well as community members vulnerable to severe illness from the virus. If someone decides to continue wearing a mask or a business still chooses to require mask use for customers, it is a decision that should be respected and supported.”
As of March 21, Ontario will no longer require masks inside most public settings, including businesses, restaurants, and schools. Masks will still need to be worn on public transit and in hospitals, long-term care homes, jails, and other congregate settings until at least April 27. Mask use is also required in certain travel settings and must be worn in the days immediately after someone ends isolating for COVID-19. For the full list of measures in effect, see O. Reg. 364/20.
At schools, students and staff will no longer need to wear masks as of March 21. However, the Health Unit is working with local school boards to help educate students, staff, and parents about respecting someone’s choice to continue with mask use and the circumstances when mask use may still be required.
“Learning to live with COVID-19 means that everyone takes responsibility to assess their personal level of risk and follow precautions when out in public. We also have a collective responsibility to support those most vulnerable in our communities” Dr. Bocking adds.
In addition to getting a first, second or booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the Health Unit encourages anyone to stay home if sick, frequently wash hands with soap and water, and cover coughs and sneezes.