Update on the local COVID-19 situation and Ottawa Public Health (OPH) guidance with respect to mask use on public transit and in transit stations
At its meeting of June 1, 2020, the Transit Commission considered a report titled “OC Transpo Transit Services Recovery Plan – COVID-19”, approving the following recommendation:
That wearing a non-medical cloth mask or equivalent face covering be a mandatory requirement for any person entering an OC Transpo bus, train, or station effective June 15, 2020, and continuing until widespread mask use is no longer required in the opinion of the Medical Officer of Health, and that this requirement be implemented by the General Manager, Transportation Services, as further described in this report.
Following the decision of the Transit Commission on June 1, 2020, staff prepared and installed signs on all buses and trains and in all stations to advise customers that masks are mandatory. Accordingly, masks have been mandatory on all OC Transpo trains and buses, Para Transpo buses and all transit stations since June 2020. On March 21, 2022, the Province of Ontario lifted provincial mandatory masking requirements for most settings effective March 21, 2022, with the exception of certain settings, including public transit. Further, on April 22, 2022, Ontario’s announced that Provincial masking requirements, which were set to expire on April 27, 2022, were being extended until 12:00 a.m. on June 11, 2022 in select settings, including public transit.
On June 8, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health issued a statement indicating that provincial mandatory masking requirements on public transit would not be extended past June 11, 2022. The Province of Québec also announced earlier today that, effective June 18, 2022, masks would no longer be mandatory on public transit within its jurisdiction.
OPH has been and continues to monitor the local COVID-19 situation very closely through various indicators. Taken together, these monitoring indicators provide a picture of the levels of COVID-19 in the community and the risk of severe outcomes among Ottawa’s population.
Based on the latest data:
• Wastewater viral levels are moderate and decreasing;
• Testing per cent positivity is low and levels are decreasing;
• New COVID-19 hospital admissions are low and have remained relatively unchanged in the past week; and
• New confirmed outbreaks are low and have remained relatively unchanged in the past week.
OPH is encouraged by the fact that monitoring indicators are moving in the right direction, however COVID-19 is still present in the community and maintaining this hard-won progress requires ongoing vigilance. Accordingly, OPH continues to recommend that everyone assess their own risk and take steps to protect themselves and those around them who may be at greater risk. Individuals can assess their risk by visiting OttawaPublicHealth.ca/RiskReduction and consider using layers of protection such as gathering outdoors preferentially, taking steps to improve ventilation when gathering indoors (bringing in more fresh air through a properly maintained ventilation system or by opening windows and doors), wearing a mask indoors when physical distancing may be difficult, monitoring for symptoms and staying home when sick. In addition to updating the COVID-19 Dashboard (semiweekly, on Tuesdays and Fridays, as of the week of June 13, 2022), OPH is now also releasing weekly animated presentations of key data and messages for the public to provide timely guidance to residents. These weekly snapshots are shared through OPH’s Facebook and Twitter channels and posted on OttawaPublicHealth.ca/coronavirus.