Durham lifts mask mandate for apartment buildings in Oshawa, Pickering and Whitby March 21

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Published March 14, 2022 at 1:10 pm

Durham Region’s top doc, Dr. Robert Kyle, announced the regional government’s intention to remove masking requirements in most indoor settings, while reminding residents COVID-19 remains an ever-present threat.

The Ontario Government announced last week that masks will no longer be required in restaurants, retail and schools starting on March 21.

Along with unmasking, schools and child-care services will no longer need to screen kids, students or staff for COVID-19. However, Kyle recommends parents continue to monitor their kids and self-screen at home every day, keeping them home from school if they show symptoms.

The province will continue to distribute free masks in schools and childcare settings for the students and staff who wish to wear them.

While masks will no longer be required in most indoor settings next week, they will remain mandatory on public transit, in healthcare settings and in long term care homes.

The Region followed the provinces lead in an announcement March 14, ending mask mandates for common-areas in apartment buildings and condos also on March 21.

The end of masking requirements comes as “The province has continued to see key public health indicators improve or remain stable,” according to Kyle, adding that the province is now moving to a long-term approach in “managing and living with COVID.”

However, Kyle warns that COVID-19 remains active in the Region. “Lifting remaining public health measures does not mean the risk of COVID-19 has been eliminated,” he said, “There continue to be new cases of COVID-19 daily and the virus is still circulating in our community.”

“Masks have helped us protect each other from getting ill,” Kyle stressed, encouraging vulnerable populations such as the elderly or immunocompromised to continue wearing masks in indoor settings for the foreseeable future.

He added that even people not at high risk “may want to continue wearing a mask as an added layer of protection.” Kyle also advised residents that health measures like mandatory masks if COVID-19 numbers surge again.

Ontario has nearly seen a return to the pre-Omicron baseline of COVID-19 cases with a seven-day average over the last week of 1,264 cases. Prior to the emergence of the highly contagious Omicron variant the Province saw a weekly average of around 900 cases. Numbers peaked on January 3 with nearly 15,000 cases reported.

Guidance for self-isolation after COVID exposure has also changed. A full guide to protocols in available online. Generally Ontario requires exposed people to stay home for between five and ten days, depending on their health, age and vaccination status. Kyle recommends anybody who is experiencing symptoms to remain home as to not spread the virus.

“I would like to emphasize once again the importance of getting vaccinated. There continues to be COVID-19 transmission throughout our community, Kyle concluded, “Getting vaccinated is your best protection against serious illness from COVID-19 and hospitalization resulting from COVID-19.”

Residents can book their vaccination appointment through the Region’s website.

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