VICTORIA -- Starting Monday, Aug. 24, if you are travelling on a BC Ferry or riding on a BC Transit bus you must wear a mask.

Both transportation operators say that making face masks mandatory to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is something their customers have been requesting for some time.

"We know it is something customers want to make their journey more comfortable," said BC Transit communications manager Jonathon Dyck.

"Now it's that step of working with our customers to make sure they're aware of this policy and they are following it," he said.

BC Ferries is expanding some of its COVID-19 health policies, as ridership begins to rebound on the ferry service. On Monday, face coverings must be worn at all BC Ferry terminals and while on board a ferry.

"We do urge our customers to travel responsibly and it is mandatory for all walk-on and vehicle travellers to wear a face covering at all times," said BC Ferries communication manager Tessa Humphries.

"Customers will be advised by signage as they approach the ticket booth about the mandatory requirement," she said.

Both BC Ferries and BC Transit say there are some exemptions from the face covering policy. The transportation operators say people who have medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask or people who are unable to put on a face covering without assistance are exempt. Children younger than two years of age are also not required to wear and mask on a ferry and children under the age of five do not have to cover their face on a BC Transit bus.

"I've heard from our team that people are abiding by the mandatory face covering policy," said Dyck. "People are taking it seriously."

Early reports from BC Ferries staff indicate passengers across the fleet are also travelling and covering their faces to help prevent the spread of the virus.

"We're hearing positive things about this mandatory requirement," said Humphries. "We're hearing from terminals about 90 to 95 per cent compliance rate, and that's half of the first day."

As with all of BC Ferries' COVID-19 policies and regulations, any passenger who fails to comply with the face covering requirement can be denied travel for the day. If staff onboard a ferry find that a person is unwilling to wear a mask, they will be asked to put one on immediately.

"What's really important here is this is about safety," said Humphries. "We're doing everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our employees and our customers."

BC Transit staff also want to reinforce the need to keep people safe.

"We want our customers to know, your fellow passengers have asked for this policy to be put in place," said Dyck. "So if you are getting on a BC Transit vehicle, please be kind to your fellow customers."