As of Monday, March 7, elementary and high school students in Quebec will no longer have to wear a mask while seated in class. After some public speculation on the future of the mask earlier in the week, the Ministry of Health and Social Services made an official announcement via a press release on Tuesday afternoon.
In the press release, the government specifies that masks will still be required when students move around, when they are in common spaces such as hallways and cafeterias, and while on busses. It makes no statements about masks in any other work, school, or social context.
The change comes one week after provincial public health director Dr. Luc Boileau called the mask a “significant tool” in the fight against COVID-19 in the province and said that there was no plan to remove mask requirements before March 14. The decision also echoes the turnaround on removing the vaccine passport requirement, which also came one week after statements suggesting that it would not be withdrawn in the near future.
According to Tuesday’s release, the mask decision was made at the recommendation of the public health department due to “favourable evolution of the epidemiological situation.”
Boileau is expected to hold a press conference regarding the situation in Quebec on Wednesday.
There were 1,742 people in hospital with COVID-19 across Quebec on Tuesday; a decrease of 34 compared to the previous day and the lowest number that the province has reported since January 3 of this year. There were also 107 people in intensive care, a decrease of 12 compared to Monday and a number comparable with ICU levels on December 26.
The total number of hospitalizations linked to Covid in the Eastern townships remained unchanged at 88 on Tuesday, with six in intensive care.
The province as a whole recorded 30 new deaths on Monday, for a total of 13,886 since the start of the pandemic. The Eastern Townships, meanwhile, recorded another four for a total of 534.