Ontario Long-Term Care: Mask Mandates Return Amid COVID-19 Spike

A close-up of a COVID-19 mask on a person's face.

Ontario’s long-term care facilities are witnessing a significant return of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, leading to the reinstatement of mask mandates for staff. Effective November 7, 2023, the following personnel must wear masks in all indoor areas accessed by residents:

  • Staff
  • Volunteers
  • Support workers

Mask guidance for others: Public Health Ontario strongly encourages caregivers and visitors to wear masks indoors, except when in a resident’s room or while eating or drinking.

Ontario Mask Mandates: The Facts

Recent Public Health Ontario Report Insights

This decision aligns with the rising cases of COVID-19 and respiratory illnesses, as detailed in a recent Public Health Ontario report.

The report reveals:

  • A concerning rise in COVID-19 cases within long-term care facilities in 2023.
  • Thousands of cases among residents and staff.
  • Numerous hospitalizations and fatalities.
  • Retirement homes are also experiencing similar trends.
  • The overall positivity rate for COVID-19 in Ontario stands at a high 17%, surpassing that of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
  • A gradual increase in virus levels as of early November, according to wastewater surveillance data.

Previous policy

The reimplementation of mask mandates in long-term care homes comes after they were lifted in October 2022, when masks were advised but not obligatory for caregivers and visitors. However, with the onset of autumn, several hospitals across Ontario have reinstated masking requirements in patient-care areas.

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