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Masks no longer mandatory in many Ottawa indoor settings


Masks are no longer mandatory in many indoor settings in Ottawa and across Ontario.

The Ontario government has lifted mandatory mask requirements for many places, including gyms, malls, restaurants, bars, grocery stores and within public elementary and secondary schools. 

"I’m a little bit excited to not wear masks anymore," said Liam Heikkila, a Grade 1 student.

"It’s good to have some flexibility and option to take the mask off," said Steve Heikkila, Liam’s parent.  "I think it’s good for kids to be able to see their classmates faces."

As the mandate lifts, wearing a face covering will remain a personal choice.

"It will be nice to live life without having to do the mask, but I understand that it will be a choice. Especially for those who are immunocompromised. It’s something we should respect," Ottawa resident Mark Smith said.

But many parents are worried about the risk factor in lifting the mandate.

"As a parent I would prefer that some keep the mask on because for some kids they’re not that self disciplined, so they might not be able to keep the distance," said Jennifer Zhou, whose child is in elementary school.

The mask mandate will stay in effect within health care buildings, retirement homes, shelters, jails and on public transit.

For those working in industries where it will be lifted, a sense of normalcy is around the corner. 

"With the mask we have to repeat ourselves multiple times and people don’t necessarily understand," said Charlyne Martineau of Headquarters in Ottawa.

Ottawa COVID-19 monitoring show new outbreaks and hospitalizations are currently stable.

Experts say lifting the mandate brings a possibility of a bump in cases. 

"I think it’s a bit early. I think they could have waited for at least the winter season to end," said Zahid Butt, an epidemiologist.

Ontario will lift almost all COVID-19 restrictions by April 27.

Ottawa's deputy medical officer of health, Dr. Brent Moloughney, said the province's lifting of mask mandates shifts the individal choice

"It becomes the responsibility of each person, each family to assess their risks and decide whether to wear masks or not," he told CTV Morning Live on Monday. The key, he added, is for people to be respectful of others' choices.

In a statement Sunday Ottawa Public Health said they understand many people feel stressed or anxious about the changes and they encourage people to be respectful of the decisions that individuals and families make.


In a brief thread on Twitter Monday, the Ottawa Hospital urged residents to approach the change with kindness and understanding.

"This is yet another change after two years of many changes. Be kind and support each other however you can," the hospital said.

TOH added that, as a hospital, it has adapted to COVID-19 throughout the pandemic and while some measures will eventually be dropped, others will be kept.

"The pandemic changed how we function inside the hospital. Some of these changes will continue indefinitely as a best practice, while others will transition back to a pre-pandemic state," TOH said.

Masks remain mandatory in hospital settings, and TOH says all visitors will be given a mask when arriving at the screening desk.

"COVID-19 is still in our community, so it’s important to remain cautious. We will monitor the potential impacts of the provincial reopening in the coming days and weeks," the hospital wrote. Top Stories

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