On March 9, 2022, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, announced that the province’s mask mandate will end in most settings on March 21, 2022, along with remaining regulatory requirements for businesses, such as safety plans. The remaining masking mandates (and other mandates and emergency orders) will expire on April 27, 2022.
Guidance relating to contact management and isolation is also being modified and mandatory vaccination policies will end on March 14, 2022 in the limited number of settings where they continue to apply.
Dr. Moore’s announcement, which follows a steep decline in hospitalizations and ICU admissions, was accompanied by a media briefing that explains the changes in more detail. The briefing also discusses updates to provincial data reporting standards intended to better align publicly released indicators with the reality of the pandemic as it enters its third year.
Please note that an archive of our posts on Ontario’s previous COVID-19 announcements, from 2020 to earlier in 2022, is available for reference purposes.
Mandatory Mask Mandates
As of March 21, 2022, but only until April 27, 2022, masking will continue to be mandatory in the following settings:
Health care settings;
Long-term care homes; and
Congregate care and living settings.
Congregate care and living settings include homes for the developmentally disabled, shelters and jails. As noted above, these remaining mandates are scheduled to be lifted as of April 27, 2022, although the Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to issue guidance as needed.
Other Regulatory Requirements for Businesses
According to the media briefing, all other regulatory requirements for businesses will also be removed on March 21, 2022, including those relating to passive screening and safety plans.
Mandatory Vaccination Policies
On March 14, 2022, the directives under which mandatory vaccination policies have been required in certain high-risk settings will be revoked. Organizations may retain their own policies, however.
Contact Management and Isolation
Effective immediately, the Government of Ontario Guidance for contact management and isolation has been amended to significantly narrow the range of circumstances in which isolation is required. Instead, those who have been exposed are expected to self-monitor for symptoms and take other precautions, such as not going to high-risk workplaces (among others), for 10 days.
There are two major exceptions, as follows:
Household close contacts
Members of households in which someone has tested positive or is symptomatic must isolate unless they:
Are adequately vaccinated (booster if age 18+; “fully vaccinated” otherwise); or
Have themselves tested positive in the previous 90 days.
Otherwise, household members need only follow the precautionary steps, referred to above, that apply more generally.
High risk settings
Isolation requirements for those in high risk settings and for the immunocompromised are being relaxed (some details to be announced later), and PCR eligibility is being expanded to home and community care settings, among others.