Nearly four months after making mask use mandatory on OC Transpo, the city's public transit system is ready to start handing out warnings to people who still aren't following the rules.
Fines could be coming.
A press release from the City of Ottawa says OC Transpo will begin "Operation Mask Up" on Friday. The two-week blitz is aimed at helping to "change the behavior of the small number of customers failing to comply with OC Transpo’s mandatory mask policy," the City says.
Masks have been mandatory on OC Transpo since June 15, with exceptions for young children and people who cannot wear masks because of a disability or other medical reasons. OC Transpo was the first transit agency in Canada to mandate the use of face coverings for riders and operators.
OC Transpo drivers do not refuse boarding to riders who are not wearing masks and will continue to allow riders without masks on the bus or train during the blitz. Starting Friday, however, the transit service's special constables will be handing out written warnings to riders who do not comply with the rules and may ask customers not to enter transit stations if they refuse to wear a mask without an exemption.
A disposable mask will be handed out with the written warning under the city's mandatory mask bylaw.
"[Y]oung children and customers with a disability or medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask are exempt and will not be issued warnings," the City says. "Customers who aren’t wearing a mask correctly will be given direction on proper mask wearing."
FINES FOR REPEATED INFRACTIONS POSSIBLE
The City has recently been ramping up its enforcement of the mandatory mask bylaw, handing out more fines to businesses and individuals who do not comply with the order. The City says fines could also soon be coming to OC Transpo riders who don’t wear masks.
"City of Ottawa By-law officers have been laying charges since September 17, and this could be an eventual next step for transit customers who continue to use OC Transpo without masking up," the City says.
⚠️The warning phase for the Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law is ending.
Officers will continue to exercise discretion, but tickets will be issued in cases where a warning is not deemed sufficient or when repeat offenders are encountered.https://t.co/adM5Nv02m8 #OttCity pic.twitter.com/FRx5XduoGl
Still, the City is asking riders to be kind to one another, even if someone is not wearing a mask.
"Not all disabilities or conditions are obvious. Remember to be COVID Kind," the City says.