Masks are now mandatory on Quebec public transit

A couple wearing a protective masks ride a near empty subway train in Montreal, on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

The wearing of masks is now mandatory on all public transit across Quebec.

What was once strongly recommended by public health to limit the spread of COVID-19 became mandatory on July 13, though authorities have factored in a two-week grace period during which people won’t be turned away from the services if they show up without a mask. 

As of July 27, no one will be allowed to enter a bus or metro in the province if they aren’t wearing one, Quebec Premier Francois Legault said. He made the announcement during a press briefing at the end of June and attributed the decision to the gradual reopening of businesses across the province. 

“We went progressively with this, but of course, the more we’ve opened businesses and stores, the more people there are on public transportation," he said at the time. “Now I think that we are at a new stage.” 

The new rule applies to everyone across the province aged 12 and up. Children between two and 12 years old are not required to wear masks but are still strongly recommended to do so, while it isn’t necessary for those under two. 

Fines will not be issued to users who try to enter without masks, however. 

"The only consequence will be that you cannot use the transport," Legault said, adding that there won’t be officers on site to enforce the rules. “…We will be asking people who manage public transportation not let people without a mask go in.” 

Montreal’s transit agency, the Societe de transport de Montreal (STM), says some of the details of the new requirement are unclear – like what happens if someone takes off their mask during a ride. 

"That's a good example of how difficult it is,” STM chair Philippe Schnobb told CTV News last week. 

The STM’s union for bus drivers says its members don’t want to be responsible for enforcing the rules. 

“If someone gets into a metro station with a mask and takes it off in the car, you might understand that it will be very difficult for someone in charge at the STM” to know how to respond, Schnobb said.

The hope is that Montrealers will comply on their own.

In an effort to make the transition run smoothly, the STM will be handing out 1.5 million masks between now and September. 

The city of Montreal announced last week the wearing of masks will be mandatory in closed public spaces as of July 27 as well. 

With files from CTV News' Selena Ross and Gabrielle Fahmy. 

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