Released: 1:26 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB – As part of our commitment to ensure the health and safety of our residents and employees, effective Saturday, August 29, 2020 the City of Winnipeg is requiring that all individuals entering City-operated facilities or using City vehicles, including Winnipeg Transit or Winnipeg Transit Plus, must wear a face mask as a means to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

While not a replacement for social distancing or hand-washing, the use of face masks is increasingly recognized by public health officials as a tool to provide protection against the spread of COVID-19, particularly in settings where social distancing may be a challenge. Our decision to require the use of non-medical face masks in our facilities and vehicles is in keeping with this recognition, and was contemplated due to the increasing number of cases in the community.

“As we approach the fall season and children are returning back to school, higher volumes of people are expected on Winnipeg Transit and in City of Winnipeg facilities, and with those higher volumes of people, it will be increasingly difficult to maintain physical distancing,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “I would like to thank Manitoba Health for their collaboration as the City moves toward mandatory masks on Winnipeg Transit and in City of Winnipeg facilities as a measure that will help protect the safety of Winnipeggers. I hope to see Winnipeggers embrace this new measure and continue to support each other as we’ve seen throughout the pandemic.”

The authority to mandate the use of face masks in City-operated facilities is within the CAO’s existing authority. The Director of Winnipeg Transit has authority to require face masks on Winnipeg Transit vehicles, including Winnipeg Transit Plus vehicles.

“Wearing a face mask in these settings is a reasonable measure in combination with other precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” said Jason Shaw, Manager of the City’s Emergency Operations Centre. “We’re asking Winnipeggers visiting our facilities and using public transit to do their part and wear a face mask to protect our most vulnerable residents.”

Employees will be informing residents who are not wearing a face mask that they are required to wear one. However, residents will not be denied service for refusing to wear a face mask. Note, while our primary focus is on education as we introduce these new measures, Transit riders could face a $100 fine for non-compliance. The City may implement enforcement measures if wide-spread non-compliance becomes an issue. We also ask that Winnipeggers not judge others who may not be wearing a face mask, as there are a number of reasons someone may not be able to wear one.

The Public Service is requesting an over expenditure of $325,000 in a report being considered at an emergency meeting of Council on Monday, August 31, 2020 for the purchase of face masks for distribution to members of the public who are using Winnipeg Transit or Winnipeg Transit Plus, or visiting City-operated facilities, as well as all City employees who do not have their own.

It is expected that the City will provide masks to members of the public for approximately two weeks, or until such time as supplies have been exhausted, to allow residents to become familiar with the requirement.

Single-use disposal face masks will be available at public City-operated facilities where masks are required, including City Hall, recreation and leisure facilities, libraries, and administrative office buildings until supplies are exhausted. A limited number of face masks are currently available at public City-operated facilities where masks are required. A limited number of face masks are also currently available for Transit riders to pick up at Transit kiosks and City libraries during regular operating hours. On Council’s approval, additional masks will be made available.

Included in the over-expenditure report are costs related to a public awareness campaign.

As the expense of masks is related to a public health and safety concern, the Public Service will make a request to the Province of Manitoba to provide funding for these additional expenses should the administrative report be approved by Council.

The administrative report is publicly available through the Decision Making Information System (DMIS).