Masks will be mandatory on public transit across B.C. starting on Aug. 24.
Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday (Aug. 6).
The news came two days after provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she was in discussions with the two transit agencies.
In a press availability, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond called enforcement “a big issue” for transit agencies. However, he cited compliance rates in Toronto and Montreal of around 90 per cent, even with “little enforcement.” He said that currently, about 40 per cent of passengers are wearing masks.
Desmond said initially the focus would be on education but that Transit Police can hand out fines or escort riders off TransLink property and necessary.
Both TransLink and BC Transit have made a series of exemptions. Children under the age of five, employees working behind a barrier or in areas the public cannot access, people with underlying medical conditions or disabilities that prevent mask wearing, those who cannot remove a mask without assistance. Police, first responders and employees will be exempt from having to wear a mask when responding to an emergency.
For TransLink services, people unable to wear a mask for health reasons will require a card from the agency which notes they are exempt from wearing a face covering. The cards will be made available at Compass customer service centres at Stadium-Chinatown and Waterfront Stations.
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