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Health Unit urges prevention as province announces end of masks

March 17, 2022   ·   0 Comments

After the province announced that mandatory mask requirements will be lifted in most settings on March 21, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is urging residents to continue practicing basic public health preventive measures to protect and reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

As of that date, residents won’t have to wear masks unless they are in certain places like public transit, long-term care, retirement homes, and health care settings.

“Although the province has decided to lift mask requirements in most public settings, including schools, stores, and restaurants, it does not mean that the COVID-19 pandemic over or that the risk of infection has been eliminated,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Medical Officer of Health.

“COVID-19 continues to spread in our community and caution remains essential,” he continued, adding “Learning to live with COVID-19 requires that everyone take responsibility for assessing their personal level of risk and taking precautions when out in public.”

“With the continued high rate of community transmission in Simcoe Muskoka, I strongly advise that everyone continue to wear a mask in indoor public places beyond March 21 to protect against viral spread and severer illness.”

The Health Unit continues to stress the importance of vaccination and personal protective health behaviours, such as staying home when ill, practicing good hand hygiene, and maintaining physical distance and mask use.

Vaccination remains an essential tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The health unit strongly encourages those who are eligible to get vaccinated as soon as they can, including a booster dose for eligible individuals aged 12 years and older. The booster dose reduces the risk of transmission, the risk for severe illness and the chance of being hospitalized if infected.

This is particularly important for individuals over the age of 50 as wee as those immunosuppressed or with underlying medical conditions that put them at greater risk.

The lifting of mask requirements on March 21 is part of Ontario’s three-phase pandemic re-opening plan.

By Brian Lockhart
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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