Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remained vague when asked if he will keep wearing a mask after the mandate is repealed in his province of Ontario, but said he would try to get back to normal “as best as possible.”
“I think all Canadians are pretty damn tired of two years of this pandemic and eager to get back to normal as much as possible,” he said on March 16 while attending a funding announcement at a Honda plant in Alliston with Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
Ontario has announced it will lift its mask mandate on March 21, and Ford said he will keep his mask on in the legislature for a few days after the mandate is lifted.
Trudeau did not provide details on when or if he would stop wearing a mask, but in a reversal of previous messaging, he stressed the importance of “individual choice” and context when making personal safety decisions amid the pandemic.
“Individual choices and autonomy informed by science, informed by public health recommendations is, I think, something that we all agree on,” he said.
Trudeau said as measures are eased across the country he expects Canadians will consider the “choices needed from context to context to keep themselves and their loved ones safe,” adding, “I’m no different.”
The Prime Minister has previously used disparaging comments towards those who call for individual choice and autonomy regarding vaccination.
With most provinces lifting all COVID-19 restrictions, the federal government has upheld its vaccine mandates in travel and among federal employees.
Citing progress made by his government in easing restrictions, Trudeau mentioned the adjustments to border rules announced on Feb. 15, which lifted the on-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers.
“We’re going to continue looking at what we can do,” he said. His government is reportedly set to announce additional loosening of border rules on March 17.
While masks won’t be mandatory in Ontario in a few days, they will remain mandatory in most settings in the House of Commons in Ottawa.
The Board of Internal Economy, which manages COVID-19 restrictions in the House, announced on March 10 its mask mandate is being extended until June 23.
Certain circumstances allow for the removal of masks, such as when individuals are at their workstations and two-metre distancing is possible, and when MPs are seated in the Chamber. Masks are still “strongly recommended” to MPs at that time, but very few have been exercising their right not to wear one.