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Face masks mandatory on board all transit vehicles starting, Monday, Aug 24

New rules apply to Whistler Transit
Photo: @BenBMurph / Twitter

TransLink will require riders to wear non-medical masks or face coverings while on board transit vehicles, including in Whistler. 

The transportation agency says the mandatory protocol will come into effect on Monday, Aug. 24. It adds that this step is essential to ensuring customers have confidence riding transit as British Columbia’s economy continues to reopen and more people commute around the region.

“Physical distancing is not always going to be possible on transit, particularly once more riders return to the system,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “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.  We’ve listened to transit users who want to see face coverings made mandatory on transit vehicles.”

With this in mind, customers who are unable to wear face coverings due to an underlying medical condition or disability will be exempt from this policy and won’t be asked to wear a mask or face covering. These customers will have the option to request a TransLink branded card which notes they are exempt from wearing a face covering. The cards will be made available at Compass Customer Service Centres at Stadium-Chinatown and Waterfront Stations in Vancouver. 

Exemptions for TransLink’s mandatory face covering policy include:

  • Anyone with an underlying medical condition or disability which inhibits the ability to wear a mask or face covering;
  • Persons unable to place or remove a mask or face covering without assistance;
  • Children under five years of age;
  • Employees working behind a physical barrier or within areas designated for employees and not for public access;
  • Police, employees, or first responders in an emergency.

“Transit is an important service for many British Columbians. 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 Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry in a 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.”

Although Transit Police will be able to enforce a rule or signage requiring face coverings on transit, the initial focus of this policy will be on awareness and education. Frontline employees may inform or remind customers to wear a face covering when on-board transit vehicles.

The mandatory mask policy is part of TransLink’s Safe Operating Action Plan. This comprehensive plan increases cleaning and sanitizing of transit vehicles and hubs, increases service levels, and creates space between customers where possible.

In June, the transportation agency launched a new campaign aimed at encouraging the use of face coverings and non-medical masks on Metro Vancouver’s transit system. As part of the ‘Wearing is Caring’ campaign, it is handing out more than 15,000 TransLink branded masks at key transit hubs.

In addition to branded face masks, the campaign also includes systemwide posters and decals installed to promote the use of face coverings and non-surgical masks.