Following the Ontario government lifting the province’s mask mandate on Monday, a number of “experts” on Twitter have decided to share their frustrations with being forced to “breathe contaminated air.”
As of Mar. 21, masks are no longer required in Ontario’s indoor public settings, except for public transit, healthcare facilities, long-term care and retirement homes and homeless shelters.
The Ford government opted to drop the measure after it was recommended by the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore.
While the news came as a relief to many Ontarians who had been living under the mask mandate since Jul. 2020, some “experts” on Twitter were keen to share their disagreement with the move.
Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth, an Ottawa-based doctor, feminist and strong supporter of mandates and restrictions, criticized the move to give Ontario residents and students the choice to wear a mask, calling the decision political.
“The end of mask mandates was driven by politics, disinformation, and ideology, not by sound health policy or science,” she tweeted.
Kaplan-Myrth also blasted Ontario premier Doug Ford, calling him out for asking people to be compassionate to those who chose not to wear a mask.
Dr. Amir Arya, a Toronto-based physician, also criticized the move. He compared not wearing a mask to impared driving.
Arya also made an analogy between breathing air and drinking water contaminated with feces.
“During cholera, people weren’t told to ‘live with cholera’ & just drink fecally contaminated water,” adding “why do our governments say we must ‘live with COVID’ & just breathe in contaminated air?”
Dr. Naheed Dosani, another Toronto-based physician, was also opposed to Ontario lifting the mask mandate.
In addition to his concerns about COVID, Dosani had the phrase “RACISM IS A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY” written seven times as a pinned tweet.
Dr. Michael Warner, a physician at Toronto’s Michael Garron Hospital who previously criticized Saskatchewan for not re-imposing gathering restrictions and allowing a negative test in lieu of proof of vaccination, is also against the lifting of mask mandates.
Warner hinted that a sixth wave is coming and that Ontario’s hospitals are yet to recover from the fifth wave.
“Masking is a reasonable protective measure to help blunt transmission so we can maintain capacity to provide timely healthcare for all,” he added.
Dr. Samantha Yammine, a “science communicator” from Toronto, announced that she would still be wearing a mask when going to stores “because it’s a chill & easy way for me to make that space safer for others.”
She also shared a TikTok from Raven Baxter saying the pandemic isn’t over and that people should keep wearing masks.
While these “experts” seem less than pleased with the Ontario government letting people make their own choices, other doctors have said the timing is right for lifting the mandate.
Dr. David Jacobs, president of the Ontario Association of Radiologists, said he believes that Ontario is ready to lift mask requirements based on lowering hospitalization numbers.
Dr. Matt Straus, Haldimand-Norfolk’s acting Medical Officer of Health, also agreed with the ending of the mandate, writing a column in the National Post titled, “I’m a doctor. Here’s why I’m done with masking”
“Many self-styled ‘experts’ are demanding mask mandates be reinstituted in Ontario,” wrote Straus. “We need to be very careful. In modern medicine, our knowledge base is founded on RCTs (randomized controlled trials).”
He added that “(t)he best evidence we have suggests that cloth masks are of almost no value and community masking is of little value to individuals under 50.”
“Anyone who promotes a return to cloth masking or masking for the sake of children would appear to be out of touch with this knowledge base and therefore, definitionally, not an expert.”
Updated guidance from the US Center for Disease Control has stated that cloth masks, which are common, are the least effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, all Canadian provinces except Quebec have either lifted or announced an end date for their mask mandates.