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WDG's chief medical officer of health supports ending masking requirement in March

While Dr. Nicola Mercer isn't sure we're at the end stage of the pandemic, she says, 'Let's take advantage of this quiet period.'
Dr. Nicola Mercer, medical officer of Health and CEO of Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph's top doctor is adding her support behind a likely end to the masking requirement this month.

Though Premier Ford and Ontario's chief medical officer of health appear to be eyeing different dates--the end of March break or closer to the end of the month, Dr. Nicola Mercer said there is reduced risk at this time.

"As people go outside, as so many people now have some level of immunity to Omicron, and if it's Omicron, whether it's BA.1 or 2, which is circulating, that does provide some population-level protection," she told the Mike Farwell Show on CityNews 570 on Monday. 

This doesn't however, mean protection on an individual level.

Dr. Mercer suggests unvaccinated people who've never had the virus continue taking precautions and should be "very worried."

But, she is noting a reduced risk because of high vaccination rates and warming temperatures.

This matches the response from Waterloo Region's medical officer of health.

Dr. Mercer recognized people have tolerated the pandemic for a long time and are very tired.

"It will be less likely that people will come down with COVID for the next short while, and let's take advantage of this quiet period through the pandemic," she said.

At the same time, the medical officer of health stressed it's okay if people do not feel comfortable yet.

"I may be one of them. I maybe, if I'm in a crowded space, I may still feel comfortable having a mask on. Some people have underlying medical conditions and may be immunocompromised, or they may be living with somebody's who's immunocompromised. I think we need to be tolerant," she said.

"I think we need to recognize that when mask mandates lift, let's not be like some parts of the world where they criticize or make fun of people who are wearing masks. We don't know peoples' circumstances. "

Dr. Mercer said while this pandemic will end, she isn't sure it's at that stage yet, and asked people not to be discouraged if there are more waves.

The medical officer of health emphasized mask mandates will end. 

"There may be times when they need to go on and off. In the big schemes of things, it is actually a very small inconvenience that we all do to make a big population difference," she said.

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