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Regina to require masks on buses after transit employee tests positive for COVID-19

Click to play video 'Regina to require masks on buses after transit employee tests positive for COVID-19' Regina to require masks on buses after transit employee tests positive for COVID-19
WATCH: The City of Regina encourages residents to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 – Oct 15, 2020

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere vowed to implement a bylaw to mandate masks on buses after a Regina Transit employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

“We’ve had two cases in the last month or so, and that’s why we think it’s critical,” Fougere said.

Read more: Saskatchewan cities requiring masks to ride public transit

The mayor will introduce a motion at the Oct. 28 council meeting that will enforce the use of masks for anyone who boards a bus.

“Masks will be mandatory to ensure public safety and I’m confident my colleagues on council will share this concern,” Fougere said.

Click to play video 'Mask use debate at the forefront as COVID-19 cases rise in Regina' Mask use debate at the forefront as COVID-19 cases rise in Regina
Mask use debate at the forefront as COVID-19 cases rise in Regina – Aug 9, 2020

COVID-19 on Regina Transit

On Thursday, the city announced a Regina Transit staff member tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

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“The employee is self-isolating and the Saskatchewan Health Authority confirmed the exposure to COVID-19 was not work-related,” Executive Director of Citizen Services for the City of Regina Kim Onrait said.

The employee was last at work between Oct. 8 and Oct. 10. The SHA has also issued potential COVID-19 exposure alerts for the following dates. They include:

Oct. 8

  • Route 7 Glencairn/Whitmore Park, from 6:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
  • Route 1 from the Community Services Village to Cornwall Centre, from 10:47 a.m. to 11:05 a.m.
  • Regina Transit, Route 3 Sherwood Estates/University, from 11:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.

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Oct. 9

  • Route 3 Sherwood Estates/University, from 11:10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 10

  • Route 3 Sherwood Estates/University, from 11:10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Anyone who was on the bus during the listed dates and times is asked to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days. Those experiencing symptoms are asked to call 811 to arrange for testing.

All workplaces and vehicles with which the worker was in contact have been sanitized, according to Onrait. The city says its buses are fogged nightly with a hospital disinfectant.

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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

City encourages residents to mask-up

On Aug. 31, the city started requiring bus passengers to wear a mask or face covering. However, with no official bylaw that mandates masks, riders are still allowed to board the bus without one.

The city previously hinted at a mandatory mask bylaw that would be in effect for all indoor public places, but council never followed through with the motion.

Fougere says this promise to implement a mask mandate is different.

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

“We’re talking about two separate things here. We’re not talking about public spaces, city-owned. This is only transit because we can’t guarantee the separating that’s required for safety,” Fougere said.

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The province’s chief medical health officer recommends residents wear a mask if physical distancing is not possible, however, there is no provincial mask mandate.

Regina Transit to Expand Mask Distribution

While masks aren’t mandatory on city buses, the city has been distributing masks to passengers since Aug. 31.

“We want to protect those drivers who are concerned, and passengers who need and have the right to travel safety,” Fougere said.

The city says it has provided 4,500 masks so far, with 85 to 89 per cent of people complying with the city’s recommendation.

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Starting Monday, mask distribution will expand to the following locations during peak ridership times, weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.:

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  • 11th Avenue between Lorne Street and Rose Street (both sides of street)
  • Golden Mile Shopping Centre
  • Normanview Crossing
  • 12th Avenue between Smith Street and McIntyre Street (behind City Hall)
  • University of Regina at the Riddell stop
  • Harvard Way at Grasslands Drive (Harbour Landing Walmart)
  • Northgate Mall
  • Superstore East
  • Glencairn Shopping Centre

Read more: COVID-19 outbreaks in Saskatchewan

“Our number one priority for the City of Regina is the safety of employees and residents across the city. We’ll take steps, whatever we can, to make sure people are safe in our community through COVID,” Fougere said.

“We’re very concerned about the risks this poses to the thousands of people who take transit each and every day, and making masks mandatory on our transit is a step we’ve taken to provide more safety (for) residents.”

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
Regina will take steps to unify ‘patchwork’ mask policies, says mayor – Aug 19, 2020