Please continue to wear your masks in indoor public spaces
On Saturday, Ontario removed mask mandates in public transit and healthcare settings. I should point out that all hospitals in Ottawa will continue with mask requirements.
This means we will no longer be required to wear masks in public transit, healthcare settings, and indoor spaces.
Here’s where things get a bit confusing, at least for me.
While masks may no longer be required, many experts (and myself) suggest that we should all wear one. If that’s the case, my first reaction was, why end the mandate?
The pandemic isn’t over, despite what Doug Ford and certain media outlets will have you believe. Just last week, four of my friends tested positive for Covid. All four of them received at least two vaccines. The number of cases may be down, but I expect they’ll rise with fewer people wearing masks.
With summer quickly approaching, festivals will be returning, and after two years, I’m sure many will be excited to get out and be surrounded by thousands of people again. It’s almost like we’re trying to forget Covid existed and its impact.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe we need to move forward at some point but now is not the time.
There are still people refusing or unable to be vaccinated. There are still people like myself who have health challenges related to breathing. Some are immunocompromised, seniors, and people with disabilities.
I’m definitely not saying that all PWD and seniors are fragile or vulnerable. Believe me; they’re not.
Why should we need to feel anxious if we need to go grocery shopping or do other errands and others aren’t wearing masks?
On Saturday, I went to a coffee shop, and not very many were wearing a mask. Yes, it was my choice to grab a coffee. I could’ve easily had coffee at home, but I wanted to treat myself. I chose to go out, and I decided to wear a mask. Sadly, several in the coffee shop at the time decided not to. Now, I’m sitting here wondering about the next time I decide that I want to go for coffee or need to do a few errands.
Will others be wearing masks?
Let’s quickly talk about masks no longer being required on all public transit systems.
In previous articles, I’ve written many times about how some Para Transpo & OC Transpo drivers were still allowed to work even if they hadn’t been vaccinated and refused to wear masks.
As I’ve also mentioned before, a large number of Para Transpo customers are considered to be vulnerable either due to their disability, medical condition, and age. Based on that fact, I believe that both drivers and Para Transpo passengers should still be required to wear a mask at all times they’re inside the vehicles.
I’ve also read numerous articles and seen signs on Para Transpo vehicles boasting that OC Transpo is taking extra measures to clean properly and that the vehicles have special filters or something to that effect. Judging by the appearance of some of the vehicles I’ve been in recently, that doesn't seem to be the case.
I’ve boarded Para Transpo vehicles where the windows were dirty or even broken. The seats had stains, and the floor had dirt from other wheelchairs. Sometimes the walls also have mystery stains.
Sorry, but I’m highly skeptical of OC Transpo’s definition of clean. While it’s true that some buses may be cleaner than others, it could also just be that a passenger didn’t leave a mystery surprise behind.
Moving forward, I will continue to wear it when I’m indoors in public spaces. I wear a mask to protect myself and others, including those who are vulnerable.
I have no plans to get on an OC Transpo bus, especially now that masks aren’t required. The buses are pretty small, but when a PWD using a wheelchair gets on a bus, that small space often becomes much smaller.
As for the LRT, I haven’t fully decided. While yes, the LRT has more space, there’s also the fact that the LRT is still breaking down, along with elevators at transit stops.
OC Transpo seriously needs a better elevator system.
Anyways, I’m asking all of you to please keep wearing your masks indoors. I know that many of you are eager to break free of them. Out of consideration for others like myself, please be mindful and do your part to protect us.
As I’ve said before, the sooner we ALL do our part in protecting others, the sooner we’ll be safely return to pre-pandemic times.