Mayor John Tory announced that face masks could soon be mandatory for TTC riders.
The policy needs to be approved by the TTC board on June 17 and if approved will come into effect July 2.
Tory said that one million face masks will be provided, with a focus on lower income neighbourhoods. This will be a one time targeted strategy.
TTC CEO Rick Leary confirmed that no one will be refused on the TTC.
Tory added that no one will receive a fine for not wearing a mask and the TTC will focus on education rather than enforcement.
But an awareness campaign will be launched with “COVID ambassadors.”
“We want to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our city. We want more people back on the TTC but at the same time physical distancing will be a greater challenge,” Tory said.
He added that if one can’t keep their distance then wearing a mask or face covering should be done, which has been recommended by Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa.
“I strongly support requiring the use of a cloth mask, or face covering on public transit where physical distancing is difficult to maintain,” said de Villa.
“This can help to stop the spread of your germs and respiratory droplets to those around you when physical distancing is challenging. This action will also help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our city and keep those around us safer as we live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.”
The TTC has already taken steps to keep the system clean and safe for customers and employees including: conducting multiple vehicle and station cleanings each day; equipping subway stations with hand sanitizer dispensers; and installing barriers and signage to remind customers to keep their distance from operators.
Exemptions will be made for children under two years of age and for those who have medical considerations or are unable to put on or take off a face covering. Likewise, employees who work behind a physical shield or in areas not accessible to the public are also exempt.
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While TTC ridership has gone down by 85% during the pandemic, more riders are expected to use public transit as more of the economy reopens.
Leary noted that despite the drop until this point, ridership is starting to go up again.
In Brampton, face masks will be mandatory starting next month.
On May 20, the Ontario government recommended that riders wear face coverings when taking public transit.