Those in City-operated facilities or using City vehicles, including Winnipeg Transit or Winnipeg Transit Plus, will need to wear a face mask.

A new mandate for masks by the City will require people to wear masks. Masks are required at City-operated facilities or while using Winnipeg Transit or Winnipeg Transit Plus. The City says masks are not a replacement for physical distancing or handwashing but are a tool to provide protection.

Winnipeg-owned facilities requiring a mask include City Hall, recreation and leisure facilities, libraries, and administrative office buildings.

“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 City says the decision to mandate masks was due to increasing numbers of COVID-19 in Winnipeg. The city says residents will not be denied city services for refusing to wear a face mask but enforcement from City employees may occur.  

The city says education is the primary focus of the mandatory mask campaign. A limited number of face masks are now available for Transit riders to pick up at Transit kiosks and City libraries during regular operating hours.

At public City-operated facilities where masks are required, disposable masks will be available until supplies run out. 

“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,” Jason Shaw, Manager of the City’s Emergency Operations Centre says. “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.”

If riding Transit without one, the person could be fined $100 for non-compliance by a City employee.

To help residents get used to wearing masks, $325,000 will be considered at an emergency meeting of Council to add to the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic budget to purchase masks. The City hopes to distribute free non-medical masks to Transit and Transit Plus riders. 

"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."

Up to $75,000 will be used to provide City employees with masks and costs relating to the public awareness campaign. Up to $250,000 will be used to give users of Winnipeg Transit, Transit Plus and City facilities masks.

The emergency meeting of Council will occur on Monday, August 31 to discuss the budget.

"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 City says in a statement.