Ontario’s mask mandate for most public settings, including schools, lifted March 21, following the lead of Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and other provinces that ended the COVID-19 requirement.
Here’s a look at where mask mandates – and other pandemic public health measures – stand across the country.
Mask mandates: Ontario lifted its mask mandate for most public settings, including schools, on March 21. Masks will still be required on public transit, in long-term care homes, in retirement homes and in other health care and congregate care settings. The province is set to lift all mask mandates on April 27.
- Masks in schools: Stephen Lecce, the education minister, defended the province’s move to end masking in schools on March 21 (along with class cohorting and on-site symptom screening) amid concerns from educators and health experts. Lecce also cited recent ventilation improvements made in schools.
Other COVID-19 rules: The province’s vaccine passport requirement, indoor capacity limits and restrictions on social gatherings all expired on March 1. Dr. Moore also announced on March 9 that close contacts of COVID-19 cases no longer have to isolate if they don’t live with the infected person.
Mask mandates: Quebec’s mask mandate will be lifted for most public places except mass transit by mid-April “at the latest,” the province’s Health and Social Services Ministry said. However, mask mandates will continue to be enforced in hospitals and other health care settings. The province’s interim public health director Dr. Luc Boileau said wearing a mask will become a “personal choice in the context of a progression to a normal life.”
- Masks in schools: The requirement for masks were dropped when students return from March Break (either March 7 or March 14, depending on when the break falls).
Other COVID-19 rules: Most remaining public health measures, including capacity limits at restaurants, bars and sports venues and the use of the vaccine passport system, have ended. The government said it will not change the five-day isolation requirement for those who test positive for COVID-19.
Mask mandates: The mask mandate was lifted as required March 11.
- Masks in schools: Mask requirements in schools will be dropped after students return from spring break (either March 25 or April 1, depending on when the break falls), the province’s top doctor said.
Other COVID-19 rules: There are no capacity limits for restaurants, bars and large gatherings such as weddings. Beginning March 11, the province will restore long-term care visits and drop capacity limits on faith gatherings. Starting on April 8, the B.C. vaccine card will no longer be required to access restaurants and other venues.
Mask mandates: Alberta removed its mask mandate on March 1.
- Masks in schools: Alberta removed its mask mandate for students on Feb. 14, before the province-wide policy was lifted. The chair of Edmonton Public Schools, Trisha Estabrooks, said many students in her city continue to wear masks despite the mandate lifting.
Other COVID-19 rules: The province also removed indoor and outdoor capacity limits for social gatherings on March 1. When the province’s vaccine passport system ended Feb. 9, it was the first province to remove the requirement.
Mask mandates: Saskatchewan dropped its indoors mask mandate on March 1.
- Masks in schools: The mask mandate for teachers, staff and students was lifted on March 1. In a letter on Feb. 11, education minister Dustin Duncan wrote that schools should continue to be “mask friendly” and “may feel free to encourage mask use while respecting individual choices” based on personal risk tolerance.
Other COVID-19 rules: The province’s remaining public-health orders, including self-isolation following a positive COVID-19 test, were all discontinued on March 1. The province dropped its vaccine passport system on Feb. 14.
Mask mandates: Manitoba ended its mask mandate on March 15. Masks must still be worn by anyone going to a health-care facility. Travel restrictions to northern Manitoba and isolation requirements for people who test positive for COVID-19 also ended, but it is still recommended they isolate for five days after symptoms start.
- Masks in schools: Masks will no longer be required in schools and child-care facilities, child-care facilities, school divisions and schools can still order them.
Other COVID-19 rules: The province lifted its proof of vaccination requirement for public places on March 1. The province also dropped its requirement for health-care workers, teachers and other front-line staff to be fully vaccinated or undergo frequent testing to keep their jobs.
Mask mandates: The mask mandate was removed on March 14, but the province’s legislative assembly will still require masks.
- Masks in schools: Masks are not required in schools as of March 14, but the province’s Department of Education said it “supports individuals who wish to continue wearing a mask based on their own risk assessment and comfort level.”
Other COVID-19 rules: All pandemic-related restrictions and mandates were lifted March 14.
Mask mandates: Nova Scotia is lifted its mask mandate for most public places on March 21, but masks are still required in provincial jails, courts and other health-care settings, including hospitals.
- Masks in schools: Masks rules will remain in place in schools for a few more weeks.
Other COVID-19 rules: As of Feb. 28, proof of vaccination has not been required at restaurants, bars, sporting events, gyms and other events and activities.
Prince Edward Island
Mask mandates: P.E.I. is expected to remove its mandatory masking requirements by early April.
- Masks in schools: Masks will be required when students return on March 21, but cohorts will increase in size and the schools will no longer do contact tracing for close contacts of positive cases. The mandate will be reviewed in the future, to remain consistent with P.E.I’s overall masking policy, the province said.
Other COVID-19 rules: The province eliminated its Vax Pass requirement on Feb. 28. Capacity limits for gatherings will increase March 17, and all capacity limits and masking requirements are expected to lift April 7.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Mask mandates: Wearing a mask in most indoor public settings is no longer required, but “strongly recommended,” as of March 14. Masks remain mandatory in health facilities.
- Masks in schools: Mask mandates in schools will remain until at least the Easter break in April.
Other COVID-19 rules: Business restrictions including capacity limits, physical distancing, and proof of vaccination requirements will be lifted March 14.
Mask mandates: Masks will not be required in indoor public places.
Other COVID-19 rules: Showing proof of vaccination and capacity limits will lift March 18, with all remaining measures removed by April 4.
Mask mandates: Mask-wearing in indoor public spaces is still required under public-health orders.
Other COVID-19 rules: Gathering requirements, and proof of vaccine requirements were lifted March 1. Businesses, organizations, employers and communities may choose to implement their own proof of vaccine requirements.
Mask mandates: Masks remain mandatory as of March 9.
Other COVID-19 rules: The territory eased restrictions in February to allow outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people and indoor private gatherings of up to 10 people. The province’s chief public health officer says the territory will aim to end its public health emergency on April 11. Staring March 14, the territory will also ease restrictions every two weeks until all rules put in place during the pandemic are lifted.
– With files from Dave McGinn
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