Mixed reactions to lifting mask mandate on TTC, hospitals

Jun 14, 2022 | News

Ontario removed the remaining provincial masking mandates at public settings including transits, however based on public health advice, certain area within Toronto will continue with masking requirements.

Statements released by the province say Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health, said that while masking requirements are expiring, organizations may have their own policies and can continue with mask mandates accordingly.

He said that if Ontarians have symptoms of COVID-19, are recovering from it or another illness, then they should continue wearing masks.

“With high vaccination rates and Ontario’s COVID-19 situation continuing to improve, most of the province’s remaining provincial masking requirements, including on public transit, will expire as of 12:00 a.m. on June 11, 2022,” Moore said.

“To continue providing an additional layer of protection for the most vulnerable, masks will still be required in long-term care and retirement homes,” he said. “Masking is recommended in higher-risk congregate living settings, such as shelters and group homes.”

The announcement has stirred mixed reactions. The TTC strongly recommends that travellers continue wearing masks.

The TTC said that masks will remain mandatory for customers and employees using its Wheel-Trans services.

A press release stated that masks, screening and testing requirements will be continued in all city directly-operated long-term care homes.

Mandatory masking will remain in place for shelters, 24-hour respite centres and 24-hour women’s drop-in sites. All screening, testing and infection prevention and control measures will also continue to be maintained in shelter settings.

Aishwarya, who has only one name and is a recent graduate from Seneca College and a regular user of TTC, said that she wished the mandate was not lifted.

“You’re not inhaling fresh air inside the subway and the bus, in addition, during rush hours, maintaining distance isn’t always possible,” she said. “There’s a high risk of infection and while most of the population is fully vaccinated, we still have people who haven’t been fully vaccinated or taken their booster shots.”

Aishwarya stressed that with a continued outbreak and lockdown taking place in Beijing, now is not the right time to remove mask mandates.

England and Northern Ireland are also reporting evidence of a rise in infection cases.

“Rising cases and an outbreak of the virus is taking place and we should be more cautious about COVID right now,” Aishwarya said.

However Dhaina Sterling, a chef and a recent graduate of Humber College, welcomes the move and says that it is about time mask mandates be removed.

“In my opinion it really doesn’t prevent anything,” she said. “We still breathe the same air someone sneezes in.”

However COVID-19 continues to circulate in the community and people are encouraged to practice public health measures, including getting vaccinated, wearing masks, avoiding contact if feeling ill and keeping health in check, the Toronto media release stated.