Travellers must now wear a non-medical face mask or face covering while on a York Region Transit (YRT) vehicle.
A limited number of non-medical masks are available for passengers who don’t have their own. Travellers using disposable masks are reminded to discard them properly in the garbage.
“As more travellers are returning to transit with the re-opening of the Greater Toronto Area, it will become more difficult to maintain physical distancing at all times,” says YRT General Manager Ann-Marie Carroll. “In situations where physical distancing of two metres cannot be maintained, masks provide an extra layer of protection. Two layers of cloth masks appear to not only protect other individuals from us if we are infectious but they may serve to protect you from others if they are infectious, almost to the same level as surgical or medical masks.”
The new transit bylaw aligns with actions planned by other Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area transit agencies. It allows exemptions for children under the age of two, those unable to wear a face covering because of a medical condition and passengers needing assistance placing or removing a face covering.
“YRT is optimistic travellers that are able will wear masks when taking transit,” Carroll says. “YRT enforcement will be on street and educating travellers of the need and benefits of wearing masks when taking transit. A YRT enforcement officer may issue a verbal warning, written warning or a summons that would require the individual to attend court, at which time the Justice of the Peace would determine the appropriate penalty, which can be up to a maximum of a $500 fine.”
YRT has also begun front-door boarding and is asking travellers to exit the bus through the middle or rear doors to create a one-way flow for travellers. Barrier shields within the driver’s area will provide protection between passengers and drivers. Other measures being put in place to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 include the installation of hand sanitizer dispensers at all YRT terminals, enhanced cleaning and disinfection of buses and facilities, and reducing the number of seats available to assist with physical distancing.