Ontarians may be forced into wearing masks again this winter if they don’t start doing it voluntarily, according to the provinces top doctor.

Ontario medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said rising Covid case-numbers and lacklustre booster uptake could trigger a turn of the province’s mask mandate.

Moore pointed to the lacklustre uptake of Covid-19 booster shots among Ontario’s elderly population in particular.

“Sixteen percent is absolutely not acceptable to me,” said Moore, alluding to the percentage of Ontarians 70 years old and older who have received their fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. 

The Doug Ford government dropped its mask mandate March 21, with most remaining Covid measures being dropped in June.

Moore is recommending the Ontarians not only get vaccinated and update their immunity with booster shots, also that they voluntarily wear a mask indoors so that the government doesn’t have to impose a mandatory mask mandate.

“If there is any significant impact on our health system where we can’t care for Ontarians appropriately, I will absolutely have the conversation with government (around) whether we have to mandate masking for a set period of time,” said Moore.

The Ontario government took drastic measures in its attempt to limit the spread of Covid-19, implementing a mandatory mask mandate, shutting down “non-essential” businesses, imposing customer limits of retailers, and attempting to implement a curfew in which the Ford government backtracked on.

While in the past Moore has suggested that Ontarians need to learn to live with the virus, Moore now says an annual Covid-19 booster shot may be needed for protection against Covid during winter months.

“It may be that every winter that we’ll need an annual booster to protect us through those dark days of winter, where we’re indoors more often,” said Moore.

While the mandates may be justified by Ontario’s testing positivity rate of 13.5%, the total number of tests conducted has plummeted from nearly 440,000 tests in the week of December 26 2021 to January 1 2022 to just over 66,000 from October 2 to October 8.