Dr. Bonnie Henry suggests TransLink should implement a mandatory mask policy

Jul 31 2020, 1:30 am

The provincial health officer has made a recommendation that public transit authorities in BC should implement a mandatory mask policy.

During today’s COVID-19 update press conference, when asked whether a mandatory mask policy could be made to increase compliance but without enforcement, Dr. Bonnie Henry said such a policy would be a “good option,” noting that similar policies have been made by some businesses.

“That’s an option that transit can do, and I think that’s a particularly good option,” said Henry.

“We’ve noticed that retailers and stores have put that policy in place to protect their employees, particularly if these are spaces when you can’t maintain that distance.”

Several weeks ago, Henry also said “everybody on transit should be wearing a mask,” unless there is a valid reason they cannot.

Earlier today during the Mayors’ Council meeting, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said approximately 40% of passengers are wearing a mask or face covering.

The public transit authority launched a new health safety campaign about two months ago, including a separate campaign specifically to encourage passengers to wear a mask. It has implemented signage, distributed 25,000 free TransLink branded masks to passengers at key stations, and made masks available for purchase online.

However, with ridership on the rise, there are growing calls for TransLink to be stricter with its health and safety measures. An online petition, specifically on the matter of masks and physical distancing, launched two weeks ago has amassed nearly 12,000 signatures at the time of writing.

BC Transit has adopted a similar strategy with masks on its services, but BC Ferries, following Transport Canada’s regulations for marine vessels, has mandated all passengers bring a mask or covering onboard in order to be able to board.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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