As you know, mask mandates were lifted in most public spaces in Ontario as of yesterday, March 21, 2022. This is part of the province’s move away from emergency measures towards a longer-term approach to managing the dynamic COVID-19 situation.
According to the Ministry of Health technical brief, the removal of mask requirements in many settings does not apply to health care settings and other locations like shelters, jails, and other congregate living situations. Easing remaining restrictions may occur as early as the end of April.
The Ministry advises that those working in community settings such as private practice clinics should continue to follow the guidance from the Ministry of Health as outlined in the document Primary Care Providers in a Community Setting (Version 10.0 – February 14, 2022). Members are encouraged to review this document, which contains, among other important things, information about:
- Screening patients to determine whether a virtual service is appropriate or if an in-person appointment is required and about the appropriate use of virtual care; if virtual care is provided, it must meet the same standard of practice as would apply in-person
- Various considerations in deciding whether to provide in-person vs. virtual care, including the use of clinical judgment
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols, physical distancing guidelines and ventilation and/or air filtration
- Signage related to masking and other hygiene requirements, with links to sample signs
While there is no official definition of “Primary Care Provider”, following the logic set out in the document suggests one should consider continuing the use of masks when providing in-person service.
The College is actively monitoring information from the Ministry of Health and will provide further updates as they become available.