WINDSOR, ONT. -- A 50 per cent full vaccination rate is what should be required before any easement of mask restrictions can be considered in Windsor-Essex, according the local health unit.

Medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed says a wait and see approach regarding true transmission is needed, while other countries around the world relax mask requirements.

“We’ll have to wait and see, especially when you are connecting with people in different settings,” says Ahmed.

Ahmed says the region is currently 25 per cent fully vaccinated, but notes he’d like figure that to increase before mask rules can be lifted.

“Outdoor setting versus indoor setting, people who you know or maybe people who are your friends or family versus people who are completely strangers in public space, private space,” says Ahmed.

Dina Misur of Windsor says she’ll keep putting masks on in public until more people get their vaccines.

“I don’t mind them at all, I haven’t had a problem with them from the beginning,” she says. “I think it’s wise to focus on fully vaccinated versus one shot because then you’re completely more effective.”

Beth Robinet says while she’d prefer not to wear a mask, she is willing to wait for others’ safety.

“It would be a matter of people starting to feel comfortable being closer together and stuff like that but it’s just going to take some time,” she says.

University of Waterloo public health professor Dr. Zahid Butt tells CTV News he believes masks remain important in preventing the spread of transmissible diseases, noting the Delta variant is a growing concern. 

“If you are not wearing masks during this pandemic then you would see a lot more cases than what you’re seeing now,” Butt explains. “It’s more to err on the side of caution. You have to be cautious with this virus. If you give space to this virus, definitely it will spread.”

Ahmed says he’s “comfortable” with how many residents are currently fully inoculated against COVID-19, but stresses getting both doses will result in a speedier return to normalcy.

“If you want to celebrate, if you want to go out, if you want to hang out with people, get your vaccine, first and second dose quickly so we as a community can move forward quickly,” he says.