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Ontario recommends return to masking this winter

The province's mask mandates were only fully lifted in June after nearly two years in place, with masks only being required in long-term care and retirement homes

Ontario's chief medical officer of health is recommending that all Ontarians wear a mask in indoor settings, including children between the ages of 2 and 5.

Dr. Kieran Moore made the announcement at a press conference on Monday morning, citing the upcoming peak of flu season and the prevalence of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) as reasons.

"I'm strongly recommending that all Ontarians, not just those at high risk, wear a mask in indoor public settings, especially around our most vulnerable Ontarians, the very young and the very old," Moore said in his statement.

He continued, "I'm also recommending that, if possible, children between two and five wear a mask with supervision, if they can tolerate it."

He stopped short of bringing back a mask mandate to the population.

"What we are facing is a triple threat that requires our collective action," he added, "to protect the most vulnerable in our communities."

In anticipation of the chief officer's statement, Premier Doug Ford also recommended that Ontarians mask up and get their shots.

"Wear a mask every time possible, number one. Number two, get a vaccination shot, if you haven't already received yours, and get a flu shot. Those are the recommendations I have," Ford said on Sunday.

Children's hospitals across Ontario have been operating above capacity for the past month, not because of COVID, but due to a higher than average number of cases of the flu and RSV. It is widely believed that the mandated health measures from the past two years have resulted in less pre-existing immunity in children, thus exacerbating the current crisis.

The province's mask mandates were only fully lifted in June after nearly two years in place, with masks only being required in long-term care and retirement homes. Since then, Ontarians have been free to live unrestricted, relatively normal lives. 

It is not yet known if the highly controversial mask mandates, particularly the ones imposed on school children, will return as the winter progresses.
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