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Local health unit says still a time a place for masks

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 The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is encouraging people to continue taking precautions against COVID-19, especially now that most restrictions and mask mandates have ended.

With summer providing a bit of a break from COVID-19 as more people spend time outdoors, the organization reminds us that the virus is still present in the community and could make a return in the fall. That means it’s important to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, including wearing a mask in certain settings.

“We are heading in the right direction as our COVID-19 daily cases, wastewater surveillance and case positivity rates all trend downwards. That is good news, but no reason to let down our guard,” says Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health. “Proper, tight-fitting masks provide an easy and effective layer of protection against COVID-19 for yourself and others. You may want to wear a mask in indoor settings if it makes you comfortable or where there might be large crowds. Masks are also strongly recommended if you are at higher risk of getting severely sick or suffering complications from COVID-19.”

Ontario has lifted most of the remaining mask mandates inside select public settings, including public transit. However, the Province is still requiring masks to be worn in long-term care and retirement homes. Many hospitals and other organizations that serve higher-risk individuals are being proactive and will keep their masking rules in place.

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The HKPR District Health Unit will continue to recommend but not require use in its offices for visitors attending for general business. However, masks will continue to be required at all Health Unit clinics, including those that provide COVID-19 vaccines.  Before entering a public place, check first to see what masking rules may apply.

“The provincial decision to end most remaining mask use mandates is not surprising, given that the bulk of COVID-19-related restrictions in Ontario have been lifted in recent months due to high vaccination rates and decreasing virus activity,” Dr. Bocking adds.

The health unit also advises staying home if sick, even if you only have mild symptoms; washing your hands often with soap and water; sneezing and coughing into sleeves or arms; staying two metres (or six feet) apart from others if it makes you feel comfortable; and assessing your risk before visiting others, including meeting outdoors if the weather is good or opening a window or door to increase ventilation if gathering indoors.

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