Face masks and coverings are now mandatory on the TTC starting next month.
On Wednesday, the Transit Commission Board voted to mandate face masks on July 2.
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.
As part of the policy, one million face masks will be provided, with a focus on low-income neighbourhoods.
“We’ve already seen an increase in the number of people wearing face coverings on the TTC since we began strongly recommending this practice in the middle of May,” said Rick Leary, TTC CEO.
“To support our customers in this change we will be employing a one-time targeted strategy to distribute one million non-medical masks to our customers. Working with the City’s Poverty Reduction Office, the distribution will start June 29. We are also doing a multi-lingual customer education campaign to ensure awareness.”
The awareness campaign will be launched with “COVID ambassadors.”
With Toronto hopefully entering Stage 2 of economic reopening soon, more residents will be going back to work, resulting in more TTC riders.
“I strongly support this decision requiring the use of a cloth mask or face covering by people using public transit, where physical distancing is challenging,” Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto, said.
“This action will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our city and protect those around us as we move towards safely reopening our city and more people return to work using our public transit system.”
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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.
On May 20, the Ontario government recommended that riders wear face coverings when taking public transit.