Regina transit employee tests positive for COVID-19; Mayor mulls mask mandate

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On Aug. 31 mask use became “mandatory,” according to the city but the mandate has not been enforced.

In the past the union representing transit workers — ATU Local 588 — has made it clear that it does not want drivers enforcing the mask mandate citing the safety risks it could pose to its members. Kim Onrait, executive director of citizen services, said there are options as to what enforcement looks like, be it through the Regina Police Service or bylaw officers.

“We would not have bus operators doing the enforcement. We want them operating the bus,” said Onrait. “We’ll wait till it goes to council.”

While the mayor has opted to follow the advice and best practices laid out by the SHA, mandatory mask use is not currently recommended by the authority. Still, he says the regulations and rules are very clear, and he believes this is an appropriate time to bring in additional measures.

“They say wear a mask whenever you cannot maintain two-metre distance indoors,” he said. “We’re taking a different step in a different direction because, again, in transit you can’t guarantee maintaining that distance.”

Onrait said that all surfaces and vehicles the employee had been in contact with have long since been cleaned, adding that as part of new regulations city buses are cleaned and sanitized nightly.

This is all part of the new steps the city is taking to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers alike. Barriers have been installed for drivers on all buses, and starting Monday there will be 10 locations in the city where free masks will be handed out to transit passengers. Already close to 4,500 masks have been distributed at three sites and according to Onrait 85 to 90 per cent of riders are complying with the mask order.