Ottawa hospitals keeping mandatory masking rules in place as Ontario lifts mask mandate
Masks will continue to be mandatory in Ottawa hospitals after Ontario lifts its mask mandate this weekend.
Most of the province's remaining masking requirements, including on public transit and in hospitals, will expire on Saturday. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore says organizations may implement their own policies.
CHEO, the Montfort Hospital, Queensway Carleton Hospital and the Ottawa Hospital have all said masks will continue to be mandatory in the hospitals.
CHEO says it is maintaining "our status quo" for the mask mandate "because it's prudent."
"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," CHEO said in a statement.
"Importantly, CHEO still has a significant percentage of sick and vulnerable children in our care who are not eligible for vaccination against COVID-19."
The Montfort Hospital says all staff members, patients and visitors will be required to wear the surgical mask given to them at the entrance.
"And wear the mask at all times while they are inside the hospital," Montfort Hospital said. "This precaution is necessary because we provide health care and services to vulnerable or immunocompromised individuals."
The Ottawa Hospital said the mandatory mask requirement will remain in effect across the Civic Campus, the General Campus and the Riverside Campus.
"As a hospital, we have a duty to care for and protect our patients, staff, and communities," the Ottawa Hospital said.
The Queensway Carleton Hospital will "continue asking anyone" entering the hospital to wear a mask.
"Queensway Carleton Hospital will continue asking anyone who comes into our hospital to wear a mask, including staff and visitors," said QCH in a statement Thursday morning. "We provide care for many patients who are vulnerable or immunocompromised and their safety, care and recovery is of upmost importance."
With Ontario lifting the masking requirements in most settings, Ottawa's medical officer of health says widespread mask use in the community is no longer required.
"Writing as the Medical Officer of Health, I am no longer of the opinion that widespread mask use in the community is required," Dr. Etches said in a memo to council late Wednesday afternoon.
Etches says Ottawa's COVID-19 indicators are "moving in the right direction", but warns COVID is "still present in the community."
"OPH continues to recommend that everyone assess their own risk and take steps to protect themselves and those around them who may be at greater risk."
Etches recommends using layers of protection, including gathering outdoors, wearing a mask indoors when physical distancing may be difficult and staying home when you're sick.