Quebec and Prince Edward Island are extending their provincial mask mandates as a result of the rapid spread of Omicron subvariant BA.2.
Mandatory masking in indoor public spaces will last until at least April 30 in Quebec, the province’s interim public health director Dr. Luc Boileau said in a press conference on April 5.
He said the decision comes just 10 days before the mandate’s original April 15 expiration date due to the surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations amid the province’s sixth wave.
Quebec Premier François Legault told reporters on April 4 that the province was looking to extend its masking mandate, but has no plans for any new restrictions.
“Fortunately, many people have their three vaccines, so the impact so far is that we don’t expect to have to add new measures,” he said.
As of April 5, the province added 2,615 new COVID-19 cases with 1,479 hospitalizations, including 69 people in intensive care. Health officials also reported 31 pandemic-related deaths.
Quebec, along with P.E.I. and Nunavut, are the only jurisdictions in Canada that still require masking in public places, although Nunavut plans to end its mandate on April 11.
P.E.I. was set to lift mandatory masking on April 7 but has now announced that the policy will be extended until April 28.
Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer, said the province’s relatively slow growth in COVID-19 cases compared to other jurisdictions, can be attributed to its gradual easing of public health measures, including the masking mandate.
Despite maintaining the masking rule, P.E.I. will lift most other public health measures at midnight on April 28.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization in Ottawa says provinces and territories should be prepared to start offering the second booster shot of vaccines in the coming weeks for Canadians aged 80 and older.
The Canadian Press contributed to this article