Franciscan Alliance is updating its masking policies for all facilities, the healthcare ministry announced Friday.

All Indiana facilities will be mask optional effective Monday, March 27. All Illinois facilities will be mask optional effective Monday, April 3.

Beginning on each respective day, masking will be optional for visitors, patients and staff, with some exceptions. Masking will be required where it is part of the routine infection-control process. Staff caring for COVID-positive and COVID-suspected patients will be required to wear N95 masks, as will those performing high-risk procedures related to the COVID virus, such as intubation.

Patients may request Franciscan staff members wear a mask during their health care encounters. Visitor information and masks will be available at all facilities. If visitors or patients have existing symptoms or exposure, they will be encouraged to mask.

“Franciscan continues to strongly encourage social distancing as well as hand and respiratory hygiene,” the healthcare ministry said.

“Franciscan is taking these steps in accordance with the guidance of local, state and federal public health officials as well as the expertise of its own vice presidents of medical affairs for each location.”

If a COVID resurgence calls for a return to masking, Franciscan said it may change these protocols in the future.