Masks will soon be mandatory on some of Ontario's largest transit systems.
That's as agencies across the province move to comply with government guidance urging the widespread use of face coverings to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19.
Public transit providers in Toronto and Ottawa will require customers to wear masks in the coming weeks, but both say they have no plans to enforce the new rule and will not deny service to anyone who fails to comply.
“The intention is to educate, persuade, to give out masks and make sure people have access, and to rely on the public to exercise their generosity of spirit, their concern for the public good and public health to wear masks, as has been the case in every other major city in North America where this was started before we started it,” explains Mayor John Tory.
The bylaw does allow for a $195 fine to be laid if someone refuses to wear a mask but those will be very rarely handed out.
“I suppose it’s possible that if a person repeatedly, day after day after day, came to the same station and utterly refused to wear a mask that someone could issue them a ticket,” says Tory. “In most other cities, all of them, where they’ve done this the results have been more than satisfactory with a mandatory order without enforcement blitzes and that’s the way we’ll proceed in the City of Toronto.”
The measures come the day before economic re-opening measures take effect across most of Ontario.
Tory says the decision to mandate masks was made as physical distancing is becoming more difficult on the city's subways, buses and streetcars. He doesn’t know how long the order will be in place.
Although Toronto and the surrounding area are among the regions excluded from economic recovery efforts taking effect tomorrow, he says ridership is already rising.
A proposal to make masks mandatory would take effect on July 2nd if approved by the transit commission's board.
Metrolinx, operator of the GO Transit network, says it is also stepping up efforts to encourage customers to wear masks on its vehicles.