ttc mask required

Toronto to require passengers to wear face masks or coverings on the TTC

Toronto Mayor John Tory and TTC CEO Rick Leary announced today that non-medical face masks or coverings will be mandatory on the transit system starting next month.

In a press conference at City Hall on Thursday at 10:30 a.m., Tory said the move will help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Toronto as ridership levels increase and physical distancing becomes increasingly difficult on TTC vehicles. 

The new bylaw is set to go before the TTC board next week and, if approved, will come into effect on July 2. 

But while masks or face coverings of some kind are set to be made mandatory, Tory and Leary said the transit system will focus on an education campaign to teach riders the importance masks rather than an enforcement blitz where fines are regularly issued. 

"We don't believe strict enforcement is necessary," Leary said, citing other major cities that have followed a similar approach and achieved success. "This is about education, not about enforcement."

He also said no one will ever be denied entry to the TTC for not wearing one.

And while the TTC is asking riders to bring their own face coverings, Tory said the city will be conducting a one-time targeted strategy to distribute one million non-medical masks to low-income neighbourhoods in the city to support access.

Children under the age of two and passengers with health conditions will be exempt from the new rule, and Leary reminded Torontonians that not every disability or medical condition is visible to others.

Both Leary and Tory said they're confident the vast majority of people will comply with this new requirement, and Tory said he "really believe [s] that people want to protect their own health and the health of others."

Additional employees titled "COVID Ambassadors" will be deployed across the system in order to educate riders on the importance of mask usage, and other safety measures such as floor markings, directional signage, increased cleaning and hand sanitizer stations are also being implemented. 

Meanwhile, Tory said a recommendation to issue refunds to monthly pass holders for March and April is also set to go before the TTC board next week based on lack of usage, and he called the credit "the right thing to do."

This comes after countless complaints from transit users who didn't cancel their monthly passes and were charged for March or April without having used the system. 

The TTC board is set to consider both of these recommendations at their virtual meeting on June 17.

"Mandating wearing of non-medical masks or face coverings is not only a practical public health consideration, it is also an important part of Toronto's restart and recovery plan," said Leary during Thursday's presser. 

"With our combined efforts, we will be well-positioned for our customers to come back to the TTC in a way that is safe and welcoming for everyone."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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