Keep the mandatory mask requirements on public transit in B​.​C.

Keep the mandatory mask requirements on public transit in B​.​C.

March 7, 2022
Petition to
Hon. Adrian Dix (Minister of Health) and 4 others
Signatures: 2,516Next Goal: 5,000
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Why this petition matters

Started by Daryl Dela Cruz

UPDATE: B.C. will not be requiring masks on public transit and ride-sharing as of 12:01 AM on Friday, March 11, 2022. I will keep this petition open as a continuous call to reinstate the masking requirements on public transit.

Over the last few weeks, we have seen other provinces in Canada and the United States lift mask-wearing and vaccination requirements in public spaces, in response to a drop in COVID-19 cases. However, almost all of these jurisdictions have made one important exception: they continue to require masks and face coverings on public transit buses, trains, ferries, taxis, and ride-share vehicles.

This includes our two next-door neighbours, Alberta and Washington State, who have both specifically indicated that public transit and ride-share vehicles are still subject to a mask mandate because they are "high-risk settings". [1][2]

As public health leaders talk about making similar changes in British Columbia, it is important that they know that removing the mandatory mask requirement on public transit and ride-share vehicles would present a significant risk to riders.

Here are some factors to consider:

  1. It is allergy season, and a lot of people who ride the bus or train with us are about to have lengthy and uncontrollable sneezing fits.
  2. As transit riders already know, shoulder-to-shoulder crowding on a daily basis has returned on busy bus routes and SkyTrain lines (fuelled by strong ridership recovery and growth)
  3. Record high gas prices, as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, will drive more people to transit and result in more overcrowding on the busiest buses and trains.
  4. Transit operators are facing financial challenges despite the ridership recovery and have cut service, resulting in more overcrowding. They may cut service even more if new operating funding is not secured.
  5. Community transmission of COVID continues to occur in British Columbia in large numbers (* Both B.C. CDC and Health Canada published data have indicated that most COVID cases in B.C. came from "unknown origin" or lack any measurable exposure data)
  6. There is currently very little ability to trace or verify the spread of COVID-19 in B.C., due to the limited availability of COVID-19 testing.
  7. Public transit vehicles are not subject to vaccination requirements or capacity restrictions (meaning mask mandates are the only protective measure that applies).

Masks (especially well-fitted masks and respirators such as N95s) have been among our most effective tools in the fight against COVID-19.

When the B.C. Government lifted mask mandates before (in July 2021), public transit and ride-share vehicles were also no longer subject to mask requirements, as masks became "recommended" instead of "required". This period of masks not being required lasted for only a very short time.

In August 2021, the B.C. government reinstated mask mandates in response to a significant increase in COVID transmission, including many cases that did not have exposure and contact tracing data. It is easy to infer that a large number of people in B.C. spread COVID-19 to others on public transit and rideshare vehicles whilst not wearing a mask.

No matter what you think about the upcoming changes to mask mandates and vaccination requirements, it is abundantly clear that a mask or face covering requirement must be kept on public transit and ride-share vehicles—even if the requirement has been lifted in other public places.

This requirement needs to be maintained through spring and summer 2022, or until such time that published data explicitly indicates that it is safe to not have a mask requirement.

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