VICTORIA -- BC Transit handed out free masks at multiple locations Tuesday to promote its new mandatory face covering policy aboard all of its vehicles to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The new mandatory mask policy came into effect on Aug. 24, a safety measure that BC Transit says is in alignment with TransLink and other transportation agencies.

Under the new policy, all transit users are expected to wear a face covering unless they meet one of the five following exemptions:

• If you have a medical reason that prevents you from wearing a face covering

• If you can’t put a face covering on or off yourself

• If you’re under the age of five

• If you’re a driver or staff member behind a full barrier

• If you’re responding to an emergency on the bus

BC Transit says that while face coverings are mandatory, the policy is an educational step without enforcement, which is again in line with TransLink and other transit agencies.

“What we ask costumers is, if you see somebody on a bus including the operator or customer that’s not wearing a face covering to make the assumption that they made those exemption criteria,” said Jonathan Dyck, communications manager for BC Transit.

Masks were given out at three locations Tuesday, in downtown Victoria, the Langford Exchange and Uptown.

BC Transit says since the mandatory face covering policy came into effect, most transit riders are falling in line and willing to help keep everyone safe.

Tuesday was the second time that BC Transit handed out face masks in Victoria.

BC Transit service changes also came into effect on Monday.

“The service change is different than falls in previous years,” said Dyck.

“We have taken into account changes to some post-secondary programs as we know some are going back and some are not. We’ve adjusted our schedule accordingly and to also take into account what’s happening at primary and secondary schools as well,” he said.

For more information visit the BC Transit website here.