You're now being urged to wear a mask on public transit

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by Selena Ross, CTV Montreal

Quebecers are being officially asked to wear a mask when they take public transit from now on.

A joint release by several public authorities on Tuesday laid out instructions for the public as the province prepares for its planned reopening, and the extra foot traffic it will bring, over the next several weeks.

“Wear a face cover on buses and metro cars, as well as in places where physical distancing is not always possible,” said one instruction in the list.

Until now, wearing masks on public transit hasn’t been forcefully encouraged. Last week, however, the STM in Montreal announced it would provide reusable masks for its own staff, partly as a way to set a good example for the public.

The new advice was sent on behalf of the Ministry of Transport, the CNESST worker safety commission, and Quebec’s National Institute of Public Health.

They “wish to reassure users and workers that public transit remains safe and that all measures are being taken to ensure that activities in this sector will continue under the safest and healthiest possible conditions during the reopening,” they wrote.

They ask the public to keep the recommended distance from each other whenever they can—the federal government puts it at two metres—and when you know that won’t be possible, wear a mask.

“Wearing a face cover is highly recommended,” they said, though it doesn’t negate the idea of needing to keep physical distance, meaning that if you’re already wearing a mask, you should still stay two metres from others when possible.Don’t take public transit at all when you have symptoms of COVID-19, they said. Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, loss of taste and smell, fever and a variety of others.

They also asked employers to continue allowing staff to work remotely whenever possible, or to allow flexible allows in order to reduce the number of transit users at peak hours.

“The situation will be closely monitored and other measures could be implemented if necessary,” they wrote, adding they will be monitoring transit over the coming “few days” to see how things are playing out.

The three organizations are also publishing a guide to workplace health standards for transit workers, written in collaboration with unions and transportation companies. The guide must be followed by all of Quebec’s public transit sector.

In the event of a complaint, a serious accident or other problems, the CNESST will have the power to intervene.

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