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EDITORIAL: Time to unmask – or not

EDITORIAL: Time to unmask – or not

Posted: 2022-03-12 09:10:08 By: thebay

A collective sigh of relief could be heard from the general public when Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore announced most mask mandates will be lifted as of March 21.

We’re one of those who are happy to see that with health indicators improving – specifically declining rates of COVID-19 positive hospitalization – the province has made a prudent and balanced decision.

This means masks will no longer be required to enter schools, restaurants, stores, gyms, and other settings. With the number of people gathering to play sports and hang out without masks on (as is allowed by provincial regulations), it made good sense to announce this decision.

And seeing as this virus is going to be endemic – if it’s not already – it’s best to begin moving forward. 

According to Dr. Moore, “we are now learning to live with and manage COVID-19 for the long term. This necessitates a shift to a more balanced response to the pandemic.”

Finally, someone in a position to make decisions, or at least influence the decision-makers, who sees balance is necessary. Balance of emotional, mental, physical, and economical health. Balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of the many. 

But it begs the question, if we’re dropping the mandates, why wait until March 21? Why not do it now? Well, we figure it’s because there is an asterisk in the announcement. You see, while giving what was good news to most Ontarians, Dr. Moore also mentioned. 

Says Moore, “we will closely, carefully monitor COVID-19 trends across the province. We will not hesitate to take action should the situation change, and we will inform Ontarians of any significant developments.”

So, basically, what the province giveth, the province can taketh away on a whim.

Of course, not everyone was happy with the province’s announcement. Doctors, teachers’ unions, and regular citizens all were quite vocal in saying it’s “too early” and the regulations are being lifted together too quickly.

They may be right, but they may be wrong as well. After all, despite all the mandates and rules, COVID-19 still managed to spread quickly. We also know that the most recent variants, while being more transmissible, are thought to not have as severe an impact as earlier strains of the virus.

The truth is most people in our community, our province, our country, and beyond are done with the pandemic and have already started to move on. The province finally managed to catch up.

That being stated, we understand not everyone will be comfortable taking off their masks, and we respect that. If your preference is to continue wearing a mask in certain settings, that is your right, and no one should judge you for that.

We hope that everyone can find it in themselves to respect one another for individual choices. Much like we had the same respect for those choosing to get vaccinated and those who chose not to get vaccinated, we ask the public to have respect for each other in the same way.

After all, a little common decency and human dignity will go a long way to finding some semblance of normalcy.