OTTAWA -- OC Transpo insists no passengers will be denied boarding on buses or the O-Train if they are not wearing a face mask during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting Monday, June 15, all OC Transpo employees and passengers will be required to wear a mask on buses, the O-Train, in stations and on Para Transpo vehicles. Ottawa was the first city in Canada to make face masks mandatory on public transit.

In a memo to Council, Transportation Services General Manager John Manconi says OC Transpo received delivery of 200,000 disposable masks for distribution.

“These masks are meant to assist customers who have forgotten theirs or were not able to acquire one,” writes Manconi.

“We are asking transit customers to obtain cloth masks for regular use and not to depend on this supply.”

OC Transpo will hand out face masks during the first week of the mandatory mask requirement at transit stations.

Manconi says all transit services staff have received training on the Transit Recovery Plan during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the mandatory masks.

Manconi says all employees and all customers must always wear a mask while in or on the transit system.

When it comes to mandatory face masks, Manconi writes that OC Transpo will focus on education and information, remind customers of the requirement to wear a mask and, “take every customer at their word, if they tell us they cannot wear a mask.”

Manconi adds OC Transpo will not deny service to any customer who is not wearing a mask.

Temporary plexiglass barriers have been installed on the operator cabs on 95 per cent of OC Transpo buses, with the remainder of the fleet being completed this week.

On Monday, OC Transpo will resume boarding through the front doors of all buses.