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OC Transpo starts issuing warnings to unmasked passengers

Posted in Canada, Featured

Published on October 07, 2020 with No Comments

Young children and people with medical conditions exempt, says transit agency.

OC Transpo hopes to start changing the mask habits of some of its riders with a two-week project it’s calling “operation mask up.” 

“We heard about … some people not wearing their masks,” said James Babe, chief special constable with OC Transpo. “[We decided] to move to the next phase, which is warnings.”

The transit agency has had a mandatory mask rule  since mid June, and while most people are wearing masks, Babe said OC Transpo has been getting complaints that some people are not following rules.

While OC Transpo bus and train operators will continue to let all customers aboard — masked or not — special constables will travel across the transit system and speak with customers who aren’t wearing a mask starting Friday, says a city news release sent Tuesday.

Those constables will remind mask-less riders to wear one. For those people who continue go disobey the policy, constables could give them a written warning under the city’s temporary mask bylaw, and will give them a disposable mask, said the city. Special constables may also ask customers to not enter stations without a mask.

And if people are wearing a mask but not properly, like just on the chin, constables will remind them about proper use, said Babe.

OC Transpo says it will keep in mind medical conditions and disabilities that may exempt some people from wearing a mask. Those people won’t be issued warnings, the city said. Young children will also be exempt.

“Let’s be COVID-kind,” Babe said. “If you see someone without a mask, there may be reasons for that.” 

Babe said conversations about exemptions will be done “in private.” 

“We’re not going to ask for proof. I mean, we’re going to take them at face value. We’re going to trust our customers, that they’re being honest with us,” he said. 

The city said its bylaw officers have been laying charges since Sept. 17, and enforcement “could be an eventual next step for transit customers.”

Babe said OC Transpo will start looking at fining people if it finds “a lot of non-compliance” during the two weeks.

“[The written warning] gives us some tracking,” explained Babe. “If we’re dealing with the same person multiple times, it gives us an indication. And if we do move to issuing the fines down the line, in the future, it certainly gives the track record.” 

 

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