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Regional hospitals to continue mask mandates despite province lifting the mandate

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Most of the province's remaining mask mandates will lift at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, but major hospitals across the region will continue to require masking.

"COVID is still out there," said Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre's Chief of Staff, Dr. Jeff Tyberg. "There are a lot of vulnerable patients in the hospital, a lot of immunocompromised patients. We're already stretched for staff, and exposing staff can make those health human resources challenges even worse."

All the hospitals that make up Ontario Health's Central region confirmed the mask mandate would remain in place for everyone, including patients, staff and visitors.

The hospitals include two sites with Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, Collingwood General and Marine Hospital, Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, Stevenson Memorial Hospital, Headwaters Health Care Centre, and the region's largest hospital, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre.

"We know that masks are a simple and effective way to reduce the transmission of COVID-19," Dr. Tyberg continued.

On Saturday, masks will no longer be required on public transit, planes or trains in Ontario.

Despite the province's decision to lift the masking order, the head of Ontario's science table said masking mandates should have been maintained in high-risk settings for "at least a few more weeks."

Masks are still required in long-term care and retirement homes.

Simcoe Muskoka's top doctor highly recommended continued masking in public settings.

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