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Ottawa could be first city in Canada to make masks mandatory on public transit

Last Updated Jun 2, 2020 at 8:18 am PDT

Packages of face masks on April 29, 2020. CITYNEWS/Tony Fera

Transit users in Ottawa will soon have to wear facemasks while using the city's system

Transit users will be expected to start wearing masks as of June 15

Despite masks going to be mandatory on transit, the city doesn't plan to hand out fines to unmasked riders

OTTAWA – The City of Ottawa’s transit service COVID-19 recovery plan could be the first such municipal plan in Canada to make facemasks mandatory on all of its modes of transportation and in its stations.

General Manager of Transportation Services John Manconi says, although transit user will be expected to wear masks starting June 15, there will be an educational period. The city doesn’t plan to hand out fines to unmasked riders.

“We’re not going to have mask police,” explains Manconi. “Yes, we can invoke fines and so forth, but that’s not what we’re going to be doing.”

The transit GM says city staff will even have some disposable masks available at first.

“These are not giveaways,” Manconi clarifies. “This is in the event that you forgot your mask for those first couple of days.”

The only passengers not required to wear a mask will be young children, people who have difficulty breathing and people who can’t put on and remove masks without assistance.

The COVID-19 Transit Service Recovery Plan has been approved at a city committee level, and now just needs final approval from city council.

“In Canada, nobody’s done it. They’re all highly recommending it. They’re all asking me if we’re approving,” says Manconi. “They want to know how it’s going here.”

Meanwhile, TransLink in Metro Vancouver has asked transit users in the region to wear masks while on the system to help slow the spread of COVID-19, but hasn’t made doing so mandatory.