OHS Canada Magazine

Grace period ends for mandatory face coverings on Quebec public transit

Masks were made mandatory for riders on July 13


By Sidhartha Banerjee

MONTREAL — Quebecers using public transit could be denied service Monday if they aren’t wearing a face-covering as a two-week grace period comes to an end.

But some transit agencies in the Montreal area say they’ll continue to count on awareness campaigns and handing out masks to ensure compliance.

In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, Quebec has since July 13 made masks mandatory for anyone riding on public transit, with the only exceptions of those who can’t wear one for health reasons.

The Quebec government said when announcing the measure there would be no fines, but people without a mask would be denied service once the grace period ended.

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Exo, which operates commuter train lines in the greater Montreal area, says clients have been mostly receptive since the measure came into effect two weeks ago.

A spokeswoman says they’ll continue with awareness campaigns, which have had good results.

“Our inspectors and supervisors will criss-cross the network to ensure a continuous presence and continue their work to raise awareness among customers,” spokeswoman Gina Guillemette wrote in an email.

She said they have face coverings and information brochures to give riders.

Most riders complying

The Montreal Transit Corp. said that with 68 metro stations, hundreds of entrances and more than 1,200 buses operating during rush hour, its employees won’t be able to prohibit access, but they will aim to educate customers too.

City buses have recorded audio messages and signs advising people masks are mandatory. Agents and inspectors will also have masks for passengers without one.

Spokeswoman Amelie Regis said the agency has seen a significant increase in transit users wearing a face-covering since July 13.

Before face masks became mandatory, the agency noted that 60 per cent of passengers were wearing face coverings. That figure increased to 86 per cent in the first week and 95 per cent in the metro and 96 per cent aboard buses as of July 22.

She said the transit authority opted against a coercive approach. “The sharp increase in face covering observed in recent weeks tends to confirm that this strategy is working,” she said.

Quebec has also made masks mandatory in indoor public places since July 18 — a move that has been accepted by most Quebecers but has also resulted in protests over the past weekends.

Later Monday, deputy premier Genevieve Guilbault, Health Minister Christian Dube and Dr. Richard Masse, an adviser to Quebec’s Public Health Department, will provide a COVID-19 update in Montreal.