Mask mandates will lift on Toronto transit, but mayor hopes riders still use them

Mayor John Tory is urging commuters to continue to wear masks on the TTC, even though they will no longer be required to as of Saturday.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore announced on Wednesday that the mask mandate that had remained in place for a number of high-risk settings, including public transit, will be mostly lifted as of 12:01 a.m. on June 11.

In the wake of the announcement both the TTC and GO Transit have confirmed that they will follow the provincial guidance and no longer require that masks be worn on their vehicles and in their stations. The TTC, however, has said that it will continue to mandate masks for customers and employees using Wheel-Trans and is “strongly recommending” that masks be worn elsewhere in the system.

“I hope people will continue to wear a mask as often as they can on the TTC because I think it just provides an extra measure of safety for them as we continue to battle the hopefully later stages of COVID but it is not done yet, COVID is not gone,” Tory told reporters during a press conference on Thursday morning. “In that sense people are being given advice (to continue to wear masks) and I hope they follow it.”

As of this weekend the province will only mandate that masks be worn in long-term care and retirement homes, though the vast majority of hospitals in the GTA have announced that they will keep mask policies in place for patients, visitors and employees.

When it comes to transit, Tory said that TTC officials made a decision to no longer mandate masks while continuing to recommend they be worn in consultation with a number of public health excerpts, including Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa.

He said it is a decision he “respects.”

Meanwhile, at GO Transit employees will continue to be required to wear masks for now.

But riders will be permitted to make their own decisions.

Unlike the TTC, GO has not made a formal recommendation that riders should wear masks.

“As of Saturday masks will be optional on transit, that’s going to be consistent it looks like throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) so that makes it easier for customers when it’s consistent from one system to another and one area from another,” Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins told CP24 on Thursday morning.

“We expect customers will still choose the option to wear a mask and we’ll see some of that because that’s what they feel comfortable with and we’ll see customers without and what we ask of all of our customers is just to respect each other’s personal circumstances and choices.”

The TTC was one of the first transit agencies in the province to make masks mandatory, introducing a policy in July 2020.

GO Transit followed with a mandatory mask policy of its own a few weeks later.

Both policies were in place before the Ontario-wide mandate went into effect in October 2020.

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