Masks no longer required to ride OC Transpo starting Saturday

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Riders step into and off of a train at Tunney's Pasture LRT station in June 2020 when masks became mandatory on public transit. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC  - image credit)
Riders step into and off of a train at Tunney's Pasture LRT station in June 2020 when masks became mandatory on public transit. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC - image credit)

OC Transpo is encouraging its riders to continue wearing a mask while using transit, but says it's taking direction from the province and won't require masking as of Saturday.

In a memo released Wednesday afternoon, Renée Amilcar, the city's transit general manager, said additional sanitation measures brought in for the pandemic will remain. Those include daily cleaning of all vehicles and stations, protective shields at the front of buses, and no-touch payment options.

"We ask everyone to be kind and respectful of one another," the memo reads.

Transit users have been required to wear a mask since June 15, 2020 after the city's transit commission approved the policy.

The provincial mask mandates are set to expire at 12 a.m. on June 11, but masking will remain mandatory in long-term care and retirement homes, the province's chief medical officer of health said in a news release on Wednesday.

Dr. Kieran Moore said Ontario's COVID-19 situation, with the help of high vaccination rates, continues to improve.

Ottawa Public Health echoed those comments saying COVID-19 monitoring indicators are moving in the right direction, but encouraged people to keep masking.

"OPH continues to recommend that everyone assess their own risk and take steps to protect themselves and those around them who may be at greater risk," according to a memo issued Wednesday.

Asked after Wednesday's council meeting, Mayor Jim Watson said starting Saturday at 12 a.m. masking will not be enforced, just encouraged.

"I know for instance, when I'm on the bus or the train for the foreseeable future I'll continue to wear a mask."

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