TransLink to mandate mask usage as COVID-19 cases rise in BC

TransLink will begin enforcing face mask usage starting on August 24.

The transit agency had cancelled fares and mandated rear-door boarding in March. Other safety precautions included the installation of protective barriers for operators and increased cleaning.

After Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced no plans to enforce mask usage in July, the province has seen an influx of new COVID-19 cases. Yesterday, 47 new cases were announced in the province, following days of new case counts ranging from 20 to 50.

“Customer confidence is key to rebuilding ridership in the context of this pandemic and we believe this step is important to bring many of our riders back,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond in a press release. “We’ve listened to transit users who want to see face coverings made mandatory on transit vehicles.”

People exempted from the policy include those with health conditions or disabilities that prevent them from wearing a mask, those unable to put on or remove their mask without assistance, children under five, employees working behind a physical barrier or in an area without public access and police, employees, or first responders in an emergency.

Transit police will be able to enforce transit signage and rules, but TransLink said initial phases of the plan will focus on public awareness.

“TransLink’s decision to make masks mandatory on their vehicles will help make transit safer for passengers, and we can make it safer for our fellow passengers when we wear a mask,” said Henry in the release.

“Find one that’s comfortable and make time to get used to wearing them and taking them on and off as needed. Those of us who are able should be using masks on transit all the time. I do and I expect others to as well.”