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Saskatchewan cities requiring masks to ride public transit

Click to play video 'Regina will take steps to unify ‘patchwork’ mask policies, says mayor' Regina will take steps to unify ‘patchwork’ mask policies, says mayor
WATCH: More and more businesses appear to be adopting mandatory mask polices of their own in the absence of a blanket government policy in Saskatchewan. – Aug 19, 2020

Face masks or face coverings will be required across Saskatchewan cities to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus

On Thursday, the cities of Regina and Prince Albert both announced a mask mandate that will take into effect at the end of the month.

Read more: Regina will take steps to unify ‘patchwork’ mask policies, says mayor

The new policy comes as the cities increase service routes and ridership as they brace for more student riders. See the cities’ policies below.

Regina

Face masks or face coverings will be required on Regina Transit starting on Aug. 31.

“Passengers can wear non-medical cloth face masks, including alternative coverings like a bandana, in two layers wrapped around the mouth and nose,” the city said in a press release.

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“Exemptions will be in place for children under five years of age, persons with medical conditions, or those who cannot place or remove masks without assistance.”

There is no official bylaw that mandates masks, so riders who do not have one will still be allowed to board the bus.

However, Regina Mayor Michael Fougere has hinted a mask bylaw will be coming to council later this month. He has encouraged residents to wear masks when in public and when riding on public transit to prepare for when a bylaw does get passed.

Starting Aug. 31, bus capacity will increase to full-seated loads which will allow up to 37 people on the bus and seven on a paratransit bus. The city said this will make physical distancing difficult.

For months city buses have allowed a maximum of 15 passengers to account for physical distancing. With schools reopening in September, the city says they are expecting to see an increase in ridership.

“As bus capacity increases, physical distancing will be difficult; therefore passengers will be required to wear a face mask or covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said the city.

Prince Albert

Masks will be required by all users of Prince Albert Transit starting Aug. 31.

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The city says all riders will need to provide their own masks.

“To continue to provide service to those who need it in our community, capacity needs to increase and COVID-19 Transit Protocol needs to be adjusted,” said Keri Sapsford, transportation and traffic manager for the city.

“Without the mask requirement, Prince Albert Transit would have to turn away a significant amount of passengers in the fall which is particularly problematic as winter approaches.”

Read more: City of Regina encouraging public to wear face masks, hints at passing bylaw

Those who are five years old or younger are exempt from the mandate, as are people with medical conditions.

Starting Aug. 31, riders who refuse to wear masks will be declined service.

The city is also reinstating its morning rush hour route on Aug. 31

Click to play video 'City of Regina encourages residents to wear face masks in public indoor spaces' City of Regina encourages residents to wear face masks in public indoor spaces
City of Regina encourages residents to wear face masks in public indoor spaces – Aug 13, 2020

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.