On March 21, most public settings in Ontario will no longer require masks, including schools, grocery stores, gyms and restaurants. That move comes weeks after the province scrapped the requirement for vaccine passports and as the Ford government announced plans to remove remaining public health orders in the coming months.
Despite these changes, some public health rules remain in effect, including those imposed by the federal government.
Here is the state of play when it comes to public health rules in Ottawa.
For the first time since early 2020, masks are no longer required at most public settings in Ontario, starting on March 21. They are still required in health-care settings (such as hospitals), congregate living environments (long-term care homes), on public transit and at shelters and jails. Mask mandates for those high-risk settings are scheduled to end April 27.
Businesses and institutions can still require masks, with Carleton University and the University of Ottawa already announcing plans to continue mandating masks until at least the end of April.
Proof of vaccination
Ontario’s pandemic vaccine passport system was officially stood down on March 1, although some restaurants, gyms and other businesses that had been required to check for proof of COVID-19 vaccination are free to continue doing so. Some local restaurants, gyms and independent movie theatres have said they are still requiring patrons to show proof of vaccination. Also, Carleton and uOttawa are keeping their vaccine mandates for the time being.
Vaccine mandates for staff
The Ontario government has said it will no longer require proof of vaccination for long-term care home employees, but some other agencies and municipalities are keeping their own mandates for workers. The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has announced it will scrap its vaccine mandate, but all Ottawa hospitals are still requiring staff to be fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, the federal government’s vaccine mandate for civil servants remains in effect.
Police: As of Jan. 31, all members of the Ottawa Police Service were required to be fully vaccinated.
City employees, Ottawa Fire Services and Ottawa Paramedic Services: All municipal staff, including paramedics and firefighters, must be fully vaccinated.
Federal public servants: The federal government’s vaccine mandate for its employees remains in effect.
Hospitals: All Ottawa hospitals require staff to be fully vaccinated.
Flights, trains and cruise ships
The federal government regulates aviation and train and marine travel and currently requires everyone 12 and older to be fully vaccinated to board domestic or international flights departing from most Canadian airports, Via Rail trains and cruise ships. There are exemptions for emergencies like evacuating a floor or fire, passengers from small or remote communities that must fly for essential services essential services, Medevac flights and private flights that don’t require access to airports with vaccination requirements.
Masks are still required on flights and on Via Rail trains. They can only be removed temporarily while eating or drinking.