‘Thanks for nothing': Ontario’s lifting of masking rules on June 11 sparks frustration among experts

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A woman wearing a face mask walks past a poster reminding people to wear a face covering at Union Station in Toronto, Canada, on May 11, 2022. Canada confirmed 3,096 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday noon, elevating its national caseload to 3,802,456 with 39,906 deaths, CTV reported. (Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty Images) (Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images)

The Ontario government announced Wednesday that remaining provincial masking rules will be lifted on Saturday, June 11, including public transit and hospital settings.

Masks will still be required in long-term care and retirement homes, but only recommended in higher-risk congregate settings like shelters and group homes.

"Ontarians should continue to wear a mask if they feel it is right for them, are at high risk for severe illness, recovering from COVID-19, have symptoms of the virus or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19," a statement from Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's chief medical officer of health reads.

"Thanks to the efforts of all Ontarians following public health measures and getting vaccinated we have made significant progress in the fight against COVID-19. However, I want to remind Ontarians to stay home when sick and, most importantly, get vaccinated and boosted if eligible. Staying up to date with vaccination is the best protection against severe outcomes and will help us maintain the progress we have made."

Some organizations, including hospital groups, have indicated that they will continue to require masks to be worn in their spaces.

"As many people in the community shed layers of COVID-19 protection, CHEO needs to continue with all the layers of protection we have, including entrance screening and masking for everyone," a release from the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa reads.

"Importantly, CHEO still has a significant percentage of sick and vulnerable children in our care who are not eligible for vaccination against COVID-19... We are maintaining our status quo because it’s prudent. And, frankly, we have no other responsible choice."

"Health care settings have the authority to continue masking policies past June 11, 2022, to ensure a safe environment for healing. These measures will remain in effect for the foreseeable future," information from Unity Health Toronto reads.

"It is important that you wear your mask properly when you are at the hospital."

Several health experts took to social media to respond to the upcoming changes to the masking rules.