Burlington lifts mask bylaw; mayor acknowledges there are ‘mixed views’

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Published March 22, 2022 at 6:44 pm

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Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward called on residents to be “tolerant and kind to the choices of others” as she announced the end of the city’s masking bylaw.

The change takes place effective immediately, and is supported by adviced by Halton Region Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hamidah Meghani. Many municipalities, including neighbouring Hamilton, have or are making similar moves — although another spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations and intensive-care-unit admissions is anticipated in the weeks ahead.

“In all our decisions throughout the pandemic, we’ve been guided by data, science and advice from our Regional Medical Officer of Health, who is recommending lifting mask bylaws,” Mayor Meed Ward stated. “In keeping with that advice, we lifted our mask bylaw today.

“I know our community has mixed views on the mask bylaw, with residents asking us both to lift it sooner and extend it for another few weeks. We listened and understand all perspectives. Especially during this time of transition, where some will continue to wear masks, it is essential that as a community, we are tolerant and kind to the choices of others.”

Halton Region’s COVID-19 dashboard shows no new ICU admissions with COVID-19 in the last seven days available, from March 15 to 21. There were also only 0.7 new hospital admissions per day over that stretch. However, four water treatment plants in the region were showing a wastewater signal with an increasing trend in COVID-19 activity.

The Ontario government lifted mask mandates on Monday for most public indoor settings. Public transit, hospitals and long-term care homes are among the places where a mask is still required.

Halton Region, officially had 29 new COVID-19 cases today (March 22). It is generally believed that because PCR test availability is restricted and many people who had a positive rapid antigen test (RAT) may not have reported their status, the count could be up to 10 times larger.

Ontario has 179 ICU patients who have COVID-19. More than 70 pe cent of those patients are either unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or have not reported having at least two doses.

There were 47 ICU patients with COVID-19 when the province enacted a masking bylaw on Oct. 3, 2020.

Rob MacIsaac, chief executive officer of the Hamilton Health Science hospital network, did advise that another spike in hospitalizations and ICU admissions is likely.

“Recent modelling shows we will likely see another spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions in the coming weeks,” MacIsaac wrote on Twttier. “Together, we can lessen the severity of any spike.

“A complete vaccine series (currently 2 doses in children, 3 doses in adults, 4 in long-term care residents and other eligible high-risk groups) is the best defense against getting and spreading COVID-19 or becoming seriously ill. Please get vaccinated if you haven’t already.

“Reducing the number of people you see indoors, and continuing to wear a mask will also help flatten this spike. The BA.2 subvariant is spreading, and we can all play a role in protecting the most vulnerable people in our community.”

Nearly three out of five Halton residents are triple-vaccinated. That includes a 21 per cent rate among children aged 12 to 17. And close to half of children aged 5 to 11 — 47 per cent — have had two doses of vaccine.

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