Masks mandatory for NL back at midnight tonight

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Masks will once again be mandatory in indoor public spaces and schools in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province’s chief medical officer, made the announcement during an unscheduled COVID-19 briefing on Friday afternoon.

“The masking will not be forever… It’s a small step we can all take to give ourselves that extra layer of protection to keep our schools, communities, and our province safer and more open until we can increase our numbers. vaccination rates, ”Fitzgerald said.

“I know that’s not where any of us wanted to be today.”

The mask’s warrant was dropped about five weeks ago, on August 10. It had been in place since August 24, 2020.

Fitzgerald cited the high transmissibility of the delta variant for the implementation of a mask mandate again.

She also pointed to the rapid worsening of the fourth wave in other provinces.

“Our [epidemiology] may be good, but our import risk may still be high, ”she said.

From 12:01 am, masks will be mandatory in dozens of places, including:

  • Public transport: taxis, car services, buses, public areas of ferries.
  • Shops, shopping centers, community markets.
  • Common office spaces accessible to the public.
  • Places of worship and funeral homes.
  • Cinemas, performing arts centers and other venues.
  • Rental of rooms or places used to host gatherings.
  • Sport-related clubhouses, arenas and fitness centers.
  • Bingo halls, lounges, restaurants.
  • Post-secondary institutions.

There are exceptions to the rules for masks: Children under the age of five do not need to wear them, and they are not necessary for moderate physical activity or when someone is eating and drinking.

“As we have said many times in the past, we will always be dynamic and flexible when it comes to measures and approaches regarding COVID-19.… And that is what we are doing today with regard to masks, ”the Prime Minister said. André Furey.

Mask schools and rules

In Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, masks will be mandatory on school buses and school common areas

Students in grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear masks at all times.

School staff will also need to wear masks.

Fitzgerald said one of the reasons she is bringing back the mandatory wearing of masks is to keep children in school. Since children under 12 cannot be vaccinated, masks are one way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for this age group.

As before, masks will not be mandatory in schools for children in Grades 3 and under, although Fitzgerald said young children are still encouraged to wear masks if possible.

Newfoundland and Labrador Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said the mask’s warrant would alleviate some of the pressure on the province’s contact tracers. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Another reason for mandatory masking? To alleviate the pressure on public health resources.

“The public health capacity of regional health authorities is strained and cases have increased over the past few weeks and, on average, each case has a much higher number of contacts than a few months ago and more. contacts are considered high. risk.”

Since August 27, the Department of Health has issued about 60 notices of potential exposure to COVID-19, extending wait times for testing. Wearing a mask will reduce the risk of exposure, Fitzgerald said.

Health Minister John Haggie said daily testing has quintupled following exposure notices, and the province has had to call in additional contact tracers since the mandate was lifted. He said the mask’s warrant would ease the pressure on the province’s COVID-19 testing system.

“We’ve always said COVID is a changing environment and that’s just another change, unfortunately, down the road.”

Change in epidemiology

In an interview at the end of August with St. John’s Morning ShowDr Janice Fitzgerald said mask rules were dropped because the province’s case count was so low and the vaccination rate was so high.

Recently, however, the number of COVID-19 cases in Newfoundland and Labrador has increased steadily. The province currently has 38 active cases, including 4 announced on Friday. However, there have been 15 recoveries and no one is currently hospitalized with the virus.

Fitzgerald said the masks would provide an especially important layer of protection in unvaccinated “pockets” in the province. She said the decision to reintroduce masking was based on the epidemiology of Newfoundland and Labrador and that of other Atlantic provinces.

She said health officials saw no reason to delay the reintroduction of the warrant.

“When we feel we have to make a decision, we have to make a decision,” she said.

Meanwhile, Friday’s briefing also confirmed that vaccine passports will be mandatory for non-essential recreational activities after days of confusion.

It’s different from what Health Minister John Haggie said two days before when he basically said it would be up to companies to want to use it.

Haggie said on Wednesday he expected passports to roll out as a mobile app, with a printable alternative, in early October.

Furey again pleaded with people to get vaccinated on Friday and warned against misinformation online.

“Google is not a doctor,” he said.

Read more about CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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