Transit riders react, officials urge caution as mask mandates set to end

Officials are still recommending mask-wearing on public transit, though some people who take transit every day say the end of mask mandates on Saturday is welcome news.

“I think it’s nice to get back to a more normal rhythm,” said Nikolette Herrera, a healthcare worker who uses the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to get to and from work every day.

“That being said, I feel like it will take a while for myself and I’m sure a lot of other people to get used to it after wearing masks in everywhere for so long.”

The TTC is strongly recommending riders continue to wear a mask even after the mandate ends. Mayor John Tory agrees.

“I hope people will continue to wear a mask as often as they can on the TTC because I think it’s providing an extra measure of safety for them,” said Tory. “It’s not done yet, COVID is not gone.”

A cautious approach is what TTC rider Lumi Bolu hopes his fellow commuters will take. 

“I think everybody should still take some initiative and wear their mask,” he said. “Just because the policy has been passed doesn’t mean we’re totally in the clear.”

TTC rider Jeremie Gabourg thinks the time is right to ditch masks on transit, but thinks people should do it at their own pace.

“I already see folks who are not wearing their masks,” said Gabourg. “I think it’s time we move back to normal for good.”

“I think it’s also ok to let people choose whether or not they want to wear a mask in the transit system.”

Metrolinx staff to stay masked

Masks may no longer be required on GO Transit or UP Express as of Saturday, but the mandate will remain in place for Metrolinx employees for the time being. 

“We need our staff in order to provide the public transit services,” said Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins. “So we’ve been just doing things gradually…and assessing things as they go.”

Metrolinx workers will still be required to wear as mask after the provincial mandate lifts on Saturday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Conversely, TTC employees will not be required to wear a mask, except for those operating Wheel-Trans vehicles.

The union representing transit workers, ATU Local 113, applauded the move on Thursday, saying in a statement that workers should have the choice of whether to wear a mask.

“[The] TTC took way too long to get here and transit workers have always wanted the choice to wear, rather than be mandated to wear this protective equipment,” the statement reads.

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