Toronto

Toronto should drop its mask mandate when the province does, city's top doctor recommends

Toronto's top doctor is recommending the city's mask bylaw should also expire when Ontario removes its own masking requirement later this month.

City at 'dramatically different' point in pandemic than when mandate was introduced

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa is recommending Toronto amend its mask bylaw to expire at the same time Ontario's mask mandate. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Toronto's top doctor is recommending the city's mask bylaw should also expire when Ontario removes its own masking requirement later this month.

Dr. Eileen de Villa made the recommendation in a letter to city council Wednesday morning, noting that the Omicron wave of the pandemic continues to recede in Toronto, according to a variety of key health indicators. 

"Toronto is at a dramatically different point in the pandemic compared to when the Mask Bylaw came into effect," she said.

"The City's Mask Bylaw was always intended to be time-limited and was enacted at a time when a city-wide bylaw was required to manage the significant health risks posed by COVID-19." 

This comes as Ontario has announced Wednesday it will scrap most mask mandates — including in schools, restaurants and stores — across the province on March 21, with the province's remaining COVID-19 regulations also set to drop by the end of April. 

De Villa says Toronto should stay in line with the province, noting that the test positivity rate peaked in early January and has continued to decline ever since. 

She also underscored other epidemiological trends, including the city's high vaccination rate.

While the city may no longer enforce the mask bylaw, de Villa noted that lifting masking requirements does not keep people from wearing a mask if they want to.

"Toronto Public Health continues to recommend wearing well-fitted, high-quality masks, particularly in crowded indoor spaces with limited ventilation, amongst other steps that Torontonians can take to protect themselves and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, such as accessing their third vaccine dose, practicing physical distancing, and participating in activities outdoors where possible," the letter reads.

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