Mask Exemptions No Longer Allowed on Transit Windsor Buses

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Transit Windsor users will have to wear a facemask, without exception, until the COVID-19 pandemic is resolved.

According to a report going before council Monday, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) ordered Transit Windsor to deny access to a bus if a rider isn't wearing a mask, even if they have a medical exemption.

Executive Director Tyson Cragg says the decision stems from two work refusals in January where staff claimed operating and maintaining a bus was unsafe unless riders are wearing proper PPE.

Cragg says Transit Windsor had allowed riders with medical exemptions to enter a bus without a mask under provincial rules.

He says the service falls under federal jurisdiction as it travels across an international border and the feds are siding with the workers on the issue.

"The federal labour ministry launched an investigation by one of their labour officers and it was deemed that they would write us orders and they specify that no passengers are allowed to be on a Transit Windsor bus without wearing a face mask," he added.

Cragg says the city and Transit Windsor appealed the decision, but were advised the federal ruling couldn't be challenged under the human rights code.

"We really didn't have valid grounds to pursue this, so rather than put the city into a protracted legal battle with the ESDC, we made the decision to abandon the appeal and simply abide by the orders," says Cragg.

He's asking the community to be patient and understanding, as Transit Windsor must comply with the ruling.

"This pandemic has been difficult on everybody, not the least of which are our employees," he says. "The hard working people at Transit Windsor that do this job every day are certainly entitled to a safe workplace."

Cragg says the order stipulates a proper facemask be worn by the rider and anyone pulling tee shirts over their face, using bandanas, and face shields will be denied access to the bus.

The Crosstown 2, Dougall 6 and Transway 1C routes were identified as possible COVID-19 exposure points last week.

Windsor City Council gets underway Monday at 12 p.m.