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Cloth masks on transit: Frequently Asked Questions

Image - Cloth masks on transit: Frequently Asked Questions

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0:00 [Music] At OC Transpo, we’ve been working with Ottawa Public Health to make transit as safe as possible. Early morning views of Bayview Station; bus operator on bus wearing a mask.
0:05 Customers and OC Transpo staff must wear cloth masks in stations and onboard trains and buses. Customers entering Lyon Station wearing masks; customers wearing masks as train arrives.
0:10 We’re good to go at OC Transpo, OC Transpo train operator wearing mask.
0:12 so put your mask on and let’s go. Customers wearing masks board train.
0:13 Train departs station; OC Transpo, City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health logos appear.

Starting June 15, everyone is required to wear a cloth mask before entering a station or boarding an OC Transpo vehicle. Some exceptions apply. Your questions are answered below.

Signage reminding customers of the requirement will be posted on the doors of every bus, train and station.

Ottawa Public Health recommends that residents wear cloth masks or alternatives that cover the nose and mouth while taking transit. Visit Ottawa Public Health’s website for tips about how to wear a mask properly, where to get a reusable cloth mask, and more.

The mask requirement is just one measure OC Transpo is implementing to keep you as safe as possible.

What we're doing to keep you safer

Frequently asked questions about masks

1. Who is required to wear a face mask on OC Transpo?

Young girl wearing a cloth face mask inside a Line 1 station.
Man with glasses wearing a mask inside a Line 1 station.
Young girl wearing a cloth face mask inside a Line 1 station. Man with glasses wearing a mask inside a Line 1 station.

Starting June 15, customers and OC Transpo employees are required to wear cloth masks or face coverings before entering a station or boarding a vehicle.

Exemptions exist for:

  • Children under the age of 2; and,
  • People with a disability or medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.

Remember, not all disabilities or medical conditions are visible.

2. I’d rather wear a bandana, or face covering. Is that allowed?

Alternative face coverings can take the place of cloth masks and that includes a bandana. Ottawa Public Health recommends coverings that are at least two layers to help keep you and others safe.

3. Are there any exemptions to the mask requirement?

Photo grid of different customers and staff wearing masks.

In keeping with recommendations from the Province of Ontario, an exception will be made for:

  • Children under the age of 2; and,
  • People with a disability or medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.

Remember, not all disabilities or medical conditions are visible.

4. Where can I buy a mask?

Ottawa Public Health has compiled a list of resources for residents, which includes where to get a mask, as well as sewing instructions for people who want to make their own. Visit ottawapublichealth.ca for more information.

5. Where can I get more information about proper use of a mask?

Ottawa Public Health and Public Health Ontario have a number of resources available about how to use a mask, disposal, washing reusable masks and more.

Video: How to properly wear a cloth mask

 How to safely put on and remove a cloth mask

An accessible version of this text can be found here

6. Can I buy a mask at transit stations?

The United Way East Ontario, will be selling masks at some transit stations beginning in early July.

7. Do bus and train operators also have to wear masks or alternatives?

Operator wearing a cloth face mask in front of a bus.
Para Transpo Operator posing in front of a Para Transpo vehicle while wearing a surgical mask and face shield.
Operator wearing a cloth face mask in front of a bus. Para Transpo Operator posing in front of a Para Transpo vehicle while wearing a surgical mask and face shield.

Ottawa’s economic recovery requires all of us to do our part. Both bus and train operators are required to wear masks before entering a station, train or bus.

On Para Transpo, operators will wear surgical masks and face shields, in place of protective shields around the operator area.

8. Will OC Transpo enforce the cloth mask requirement?

While the mask requirement is enforceable, OC Transpo is focusing on education and not penalties. The goal of the recovery plan is to make transit as safe as possible for customers and employees. It is important to note that disabilities and medical conditions that prevent someone from wearing a mask are not always visible (see exemptions above).

During the first week of the requirement, while supplies last, OC Transpo will have some disposable non-medical masks available at stations for anyone who might have forgotten theirs.

9. Why are cloth masks mandatory in Ottawa, when they are only recommended in other cities?

The province, as well as Ottawa Public Health, has indicated that when physical distancing isn’t possible, other measures must be put in place. As ridership increases, physical distancing becomes more difficult. Requiring cloth masks is one way OC Transpo is making transit safer for everyone.

10. How long will the mask requirement be in place?

Wearing a cloth mask or face covering will be mandatory until widespread mask use is no longer required, as recommended by Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health.

11. What is OC Transpo doing to accommodate customers who may have trouble understanding an employee who is wearing a mask? For example, someone with hearing loss who relies on lip reading.

We recognize that employees wearing masks may present communication challenges for some customers. We are reminding employees to be mindful of this and to speak as clearly and audibly as possible when the situation requires it.

Employees may lower their mask to better communicate with a customer. If an employee lowers his or her mask, please:

  • Keep a distance of 2 meters from the employee; and
  • Allow time for the employee to use hand sanitizer before touching their mask.