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Saskatoon city committee votes for masks to be made mandatory on public transit

Click to play video 'Saskatoon city committee votes for masks to be made mandatory on public transit' Saskatoon city committee votes for masks to be made mandatory on public transit
WATCH: A Saskatoon city committee voted to take a major step to help keep residents safe during the COVID-19 pandemic – Aug 25, 2020

The Saskatoon Governance and Priorities Committee voted for masks to be mandatory on public transit, and recommended in city buildings, beginning Sept. 1.

The discussion and debate, which lasted about three hours, ranged from issues of enforcement to definitions of masks.

Debate ended when all councillors, save for Ward 1’s Darren Hill, voted in favour of the recommendation.

Read more: City committee to study report recommending masks on Saskatoon Transit

The matter stemmed from a report from the city’s administration, which recommended the measures.

Currently, Saskatoon buses have a very limited capacity so that passengers can maintain physical distance from each other.

The report said ridership is likely to increase in the autumn, when students return to school and when the weather becomes cooler.

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If passengers wear masks, the report said, the physical distancing can be reduced and more people will be able to fit on one bus.

Read more: Mayor Charlie Clark believes Saskatoon may need to pursue a mask policy

In response to questions from councillors Randy Donauer and Hilary Gough, the administration said the compliance in other cities with similar bylaws suggested it would not be an issue and that the responsibility would not fall to bus drivers.

Pamela Goulden-McLeod, Saskatoon’s director of emergency management, said no one would be turned away if they weren’t wearing a mask.

The committee also voted to have the administration report back, before the next budget discussions in November, about the cost of installing barriers to separate drivers from passengers on existing buses and to only order new buses with the barrier in place.

The city will provide disposable non-medical face masks for the first two weeks, to support transit user’s developing the habit.

The matter is scheduled to come before city council next Monday.

Click to play video 'Saskatoon city council to discuss masks on transit' Saskatoon city council to discuss masks on transit
Saskatoon city council to discuss masks on transit – Aug 23, 2020