Ontario's chief medical officer denies request to reinstate mandatory masking in local schools

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Ontario's chief medical officer has denied a request by local public health officials to resume mandatory masking in schools, pharmacies or other workplaces, saying it's not necessary at this time.

Earlier this month, acting medical officer of health for Windsor-Essex Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, along with medical officers of health from Niagara and Peterborough, asked Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore to reinstate the mandatory mask order in a variety of settings including schools, stores and workplaces.

They argued that hospitalizations were already forcing the cancellation of scheduled surgeries at hospitals in their regions.

In his response dated May 6 and released on Thursday by the Ministry of Health after an inquiry by CP24, Moore says their request is not needed.

"As I have throughout the course of the pandemic, I will continue to monitor the data and the COVID-19 situation across the province to assess the need for any changes to the Class (masking) Order or other public health measures at a provincial level," Moore wrote.

Public Health Ontario said last month that the decision to end mandatory masking in those settings on March 21 was "temporally associated" with the start of Ontario’s sixth wave.

The end of masking led to a significant increase in virus transmission in the province’s public schools, with absences among staff and students up approximately 40 per cent between the end of March and the start of April.

Several school boards tried to pass individual mask mandates on their own, but were not successful.

Masks are still required in all Ontario hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and public transit vehicles until at least June 11.

 

- with files from CP24