Hang On to Your Masks as Infection Rates Rise

If travel is part of your summer holiday plan this year, researching what COVID-19 restrictions are in place at your destination will be necessary to help keep things running smoothly.  With changing mandates from health organizations and governments, it can be hard to know what is considered safe as concerns over variants of the novel coronavirus mount and infection rates rise.  But no matter where you live or plan to visit, it’s certainly not time yet to throw away your face mask collection. 

According to a recent Globe and Mail report, Alberta will no longer require people who test positive for COVID-19 to isolate and will stop routine testing for mild symptoms.  Alberta will also stop contact tracing except for high-risk settings and students will no longer be required to wear masks when they return to classes in the Fall.   Most of the lifting of restrictions will begin on August 16. 

In sharp contrast to Alberta’s easing of most COVID-19 restrictions, British Columbia has reimposed mask requirements in the Okanagan region due to spikes in cases there.  Non-essential travel to the region is discouraged and large indoor gatherings will be limited.  As more eligible people are fully vaccinated, COVID-19 care will focus on outbreaks in high-risk settings such as long-term care facilities and treating people with severe illnesses.  B.C.’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, notes that nearly all new infections, hospital admissions, and deaths are among unvaccinated people. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially recommended this week that people living in areas with significant COVID infection rates should start wearing masks again, regardless of their vaccination status.  The CDC also recommends that school-aged children should be wearing masks because the Delta variant is highly transmissible.  Most cities still require masks on public transportations systems and they are enforced on airplanes.  

You can track the level of community transmission across the United States through the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker.  Canada’s tracker can be found here