Highlands businesses are looking to the March 21 provincial lifting of mask mandates and figuring out what they are going to do.

Businesses, schools and indoor public spaces will no longer enforce mask wearing as of next Monday. And all remaining COVID-19 health measures will be dropped by the end of April.

Wilberforce Legion president John Glassey said, “I think everybody is pretty happy with it.” He anticipates some members will continue to wear masks into the legion for weekly darts games and other social events.

There is still choice as to whether or not to enforce masking.

Dave Camelon of the Minden Legion said members haven’t decided how to proceed but the veterans’ organizatin previously voted to continue requiring attendees to be vaccinated.

Masking rules will still be in effect for health care, such as the area’s two hospitals, congregate living settings, public transit, long-term care homes, shelters and jails.

Dr. Aerin Greidanus of Highlands Chiropractic & Wellness Centre, said she anticipates confusion at her clinic if people are uninformed as to which spaces will still require masking.

She said at her clinic, “… masks will still be required, along with active screening for COVID symptoms and increased cleaning and sanitizing practices.”

The Highlands’ top doctor Natalie Bocking said masks are still key in preventing the spread of the virus.

“We know that masks are an effective and easy way to slow transmission of COVID19,” said Dr. Bocking, Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge’s chief medical officer of health at a media information session Mar. 9.

“What is key is we continue to be aware COVID-19 is still in the community, there are still people who will get COVID-19,” she said.

Bocking said “time will tell” whether the decision to remove masking rules comes too soon.

“It does place the onus on individuals to assess risk for themselves, and the impact on other people,” she said.

Bocking added that businesses and other settings have the ability to maintain masking rules, acknowledging the possibility the decision might prove contentious.

“The pandemic has been a long pandemic and certainly has the potential to continue on: it’s very unfortunate in some settings [masks have] become divisive,” she said.

Isolation rules change

If you’re over 18 with a booster dose or considered fully isolated, you won’t need to isolate if someone in your household tests positive for COVID-19. The isolation period for vaccinated people remains five days. For unvaccinated people who have COVID-19, as well as unvaccinated close contacts, the isolation period remains 10 days.

As of Mar. 11, the province also will change how it reports COVID-19 deaths. It will specify whether COVID-19 caused a death, contributed to a death or if the cause of death is unknown.