Grand River Transit to distribute 40,000 masks to riders for free

A photo of a GRT bus at Fairview Park Mall. (Courtesy: Grand River Transit)

The Region of Waterloo announced Friday that Grand River Transit will be giving out free masks to customers starting on July 13.

The mask offerings start the same day that the region's mandatory face covering bylaws go into effect.

Starting Monday, GRT riders and people who go into enclosed public places will have to cover their faces, with a few exceptions.

Read more about the bylaws coming into effect on July 13

"We know that not everyone has access to masks or face coverings and we want to be proactive in supporting our customers with this change," Director of Transit Services Peter Zinck is quoted in a statement.

"Masks or face coverings are another tool to help keep our system safe, protect one another, and limit the spread of COVID-19. We also understand that not everyone can wear a mask and are confident our customers will continue to show kindness and respect towards each other with that in mind."

Grand River Transit staff will hand out 40,000 non-medical masks over the next few weeks, something Regional Chair Karen Redman attested to earlier this week.

About half of the masksare disposableand will start being handed out on Monday. The other half will be reusable masks, which GRT will start giving out a week later.

It's part of the region's "We've Got You Covered" campaign, launched in an effort to educate people on the importance of wearing a mask.

Officials recognize that not everyone will be able to wear a mask, and have included exemptions.

That includes children under five, people with medical conditions or people who aren't able to put on or take off their face covering.