December 5, 2023

Smoking & Wearing Masks

Health Unit & NHH have something to say about the wearing of masks and stopping smoking

The Health Unit on wearing masks

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR District Health Unit) encourages people to continue taking precautions against COVID-19, especially now that most restrictions and mask mandates have ended.

he HKPR District Health Unit reminds local residents that the virus is still present in the community and could return in the fall. It is important to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and remembering to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, by possibly wearing a mask in certain settings.

“We are heading in the right direction as our COVID-19 daily cases, wastewater surveillance and case positivity rates all trend downwards. That is good news, but no reason to let down our guard,” says Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Proper, tight-fitting masks provide an easy and effective layer of protection against COVID-19 for yourself and others. You may want to wear a mask in indoor settings if it makes you comfortable or where there might be large crowds. Masks are also strongly recommended if you are at higher risk of getting severely sick or suffering complications from COVID-19.”

As of this past Saturday (June 11), Ontario has lifted most of the remaining mask mandates inside select public settings, including public transit. However, the Province is still requiring masks to be worn in long-term care and retirement homes. Masks will continue to be required at all Health Unit clinics, including those that provide COVID-19 vaccines.

Before entering a public place, check first to see what masking rules may apply.

Northumberland Hills Hospital on wearing masks 

The universal mask policy at Northumberland Hills Hospital (NHH) will not be lifted just yet.

“Hospitals have a unique responsibility to provide a safe care environment, and with COVID-19 still in circulation we know that masks are one of the most effective steps we can take to protect our patients and each other,” said Susan Walsh, President and CEO.

Visitors will continue to be provided with a medical-grade mask when they pass through screening. NHH continues to require visitors to wear this mask at all times in public and patient areas of the hospital, except when eating or drinking in the Main Street Bistro. The mask mandate is also applicable to individuals visiting NHH’s community mental health program offices.

The Health Unit on stopping smoking

The  Health Unit is urging area residents to sign up for the STOP on the Net program if they need help to quit smoking. By visiting the STOP on the Net ( website, eligible smokers can get eight weeks of free nicotine patches and gum/lozenges (while supplies last) mailed directly to their home.

Program participants will be asked to take part in follow-up surveys with researchers to see how they are doing with their efforts to quit smoking. Joining STOP on the Net also provides additional quit-smoking resources for participants and self-help supports.

“Smoking is very addictive and hard to quit at the best of times and with the stress from the past two years of the pandemic it has made going smoke-free even more challenging,” says Karen Taylor, a Public Health Nurse with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “Nicotine patches and gum/lozenges can greatly improve the chances of quitting smoking, but some people may not be able to afford them. With STOP on the Net, these supplies are provided free-of-charge, and this has helped many, many people successfully quit their tobacco addiction.”

To date, approximately 600 residents in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes have enrolled in STOP on the Net.

How to Participate The only way to sign up for STOP on the Net is online by visiting For individuals who do not have access to the Internet, they are encouraged to use a friend’s device or a public computer at their local library. For additional assistance, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2240.

“The road to smoke-free living is not easy, but once you start down it, you reap the physical and health rewards almost immediately,” Taylor notes.

Northumberland Hills Hospital on stopping smoking

The NNH hasn’t issued any directives regards the issue, but we’re pretty sure they’ll go along with the advice of the health unit.

#healthunit, #nhh, #masks, #covid, #stoppingsmoking


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