After a two-week transition period, wearing a face mask is now officially mandatory in all public transit in Montreal. This means that if you're aged 12 and over, any time you take a bus, metro, or train, you need to wear a mask or risk being denied service. The STM hopes that its clients are aware of the new rules and says that they'll enforce them if need be in a statement sent to MTL Blog on Friday.
According to STM spokesperson Philippe Déry, people have been following the regulations for the most part.
"The STM is promoting the obligation to wear face coverings on public transit and is adopting an approach based on awareness and information," said Dery.
"We are also seeing a significant increase in the number of customers wearing face covers, a sign that the information campaign and the distribution operation are bearing fruit. On July 22, the percentage of customers wearing face covers was, according to our observations, 95% in the metro."
The STM notes that logistically speaking, its teams "cannot prohibit access to facilities or vehicles" if someone isn't wearing a mask.
Clients, however, will be made "aware of the importance of complying with this measure."
"Audio messages are broadcast in the metro and pre-recorded messages can also be broadcast on request on the bus if the driver notices that customers are not complying with the measure," noted Déry.
If you're unable to get a mask, the STM is "continuing mass distribution of face masks" and assures that station agents and inspectors will have masks available for customers that don't have one.
"During the first week of the mandatory wearing of face cover in public transport, the percentage of wearing face cover was on average 86%," said Déry.
[Prenons soin de nous] ➡️😷⬅️ Le port du couvre-visage est dorénavant obligatoire en transport collectif. Ne l'oubli… https://t.co/6To7BhNInC— STM - Tellement Montréal (@STM - Tellement Montréal) 1595440988.0
There have already been some reported issues with customers not complying with the new rules.
Over the weekend, a fight broke out on an STM bus between a passenger who refused to wear a mask and several other bus riders.
When it comes to the broader mandatory mask rule in Quebec, which went into effect on July 18, the government has already introduced some fines and is considering implementing them for more people.
According to the Quebec government, any business owner can be fined up to $6,000 for non-compliance in their establishments.
[Let’s take care of each other] 🚌✔️ Our buses are transforming! In order to keep a safe distance with your bus driv… https://t.co/8wmjhqx8rR— STM - Tellement Montréal (@STM - Tellement Montréal) 1595592305.0
Potential fines for individual rule-breakers are under review, but authorities haven't been shy about handing out fines for public health rule violations in the past.
Back in April, police fined seven people $1,546 each for having a house party.
[Let's take care of each other] 🚇❣️✔️ The 2nd wave of distribution of reusable face coverings continues this week.… https://t.co/XMSy1ZrzbI— STM - Tellement Montréal (@STM - Tellement Montréal) 1595415906.0
On its website, the government writes that masks are important because "not everyone that has COVID‑19 has symptoms. Some people do not even realize that they are infected."
"Wearing a face covering, also called handcrafted mask, may reduce the risk of an infected person unknowingly transmitting COVID‑19 to others."