face masks ottawa

Ottawa becomes first major city in Canada to require all transit riders wear face masks

In a few weeks, anyone riding Ottawa's OC Transpo buses and O-Trains will have to wear a face mask. 

The city's Transit Commission announced today that, starting June 15, it will be mandatory for all passengers and staff to wear non-medical cloth masks or similar face coverings while on board buses, trains, and Para Transpo minibuses and vehicles. 

This announcement marks the first from any Canadian transit system regarding mandatory face masks, despite urges from worried passengers and transit unions in cities like Toronto to enforce the rule. 

In Toronto, the TTC recently recommended that passengers wear masks, but does not require them. Vancouver has a similar policy.

In Montreal, free masks have been given out to transit riders but the STM has not mandated that they be worn.

Ottawa's new directive comes as part of eight new measures being introduced in a new four-step Service Recovery Plan, which will be implemented in an attempt to curb community spread. 

More details about the measures will be presented to the Transit Commission at a special meeting this Monday, but the commission has announced that OC Transpo will make a limited number of masks available for people entering transit stations who don't already have them. 

“The Service Recovery Plan places the safety of our riders and employees first. The move to mandatory masks will be challenging, but necessary for passenger and employee safety,” said Allan Hubley, Transit Commission Chair.  

The same day face masks become mandatory will also be the day OC Transpo reinsates its front-door boarding. 

The recovery plan follows a huge drop in ridership over the past few months, which has seen OC Transpo modify its schedule. 

It has been operating on Saturday schedule daily, with no service on Sundays. According to the commission, it will continue to do so until June 27, after which it will resume all regular service. 

Lead photo by

David McCormack

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