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Mask rule on transit to expire on June 11

“New Flyer” Photo by Justin S. Campbell, via Flickr. (Used under a Creative Commons License.)

As of Saturday, June 11, you will no longer be required to wear a face mask when taking transit in Ottawa.

The provincial rules requiring masks in most settings had been lifted in late March, but stuck around for some things such as transit. Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, said on Wednesday that most of the remaining mask requirements would not be extended beyond Saturday.

"To continue providing an additional layer of protection for the most vulnerable, masks will still be required in long-term care and retirement homes. Masking is recommended in higher-risk congregate living settings, such as shelters and group homes," Moore said in a statement.

"While masking requirements are expiring, organizations may implement their own policies," the statement continued. "Ontarians should continue to wear a mask if they feel it is right for them, are at high risk for severe illness, recovering from COVID-19, have symptoms of the virus or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19."

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa's medical officer of health, said in a memo to the city's transit commission that she does not believe widespread masking in Ottawa is necessary. "Nonetheless, because the current COVID-19 surge is not resolved and future surges are anticipated, and given the non-discretionary nature of public transit for many residents and the fact that maintaining physical distancing on transit vehicles can be difficult and, at times impossible, Ottawa Public Health strongly recommends that mask use continue on public transit and in transit stations," Etches wrote.