VICTORIA -- BC Transit is letting customers know that face masks are now mandatory at covered bus stops while passengers are waiting to be picked up.

The new policy is being introduced following the B.C. government’s recent mandatory mask health order.

Masks are still required while onboard a BC Transit bus, unless you have a health condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, if you are unable to put on or remove a mask on your own, or for children under the age of 12.

Transit drivers who are behind a full driver door or vinyl panel are also exempt from the policy. Drivers without a full door or panel are required to wear a face mask, unless they fall under exemption criteria.

“To ensure everyone’s safety and compliance with the new order, we are asking everyone to wear a face covering for your entire transit journey,” said BC Transit in a release Friday.

“Our priority will continue to be on educating customers about the mandatory face covering policy,” said the company

According to BC Transit, each transit operator is responsible for safety aboard the bus they are operating. Bus drivers may report mask complaints or belligerent behaviour to transit supervisors, who can in turn contact local authorities if necessary.

“It is important to remember there are reasons a person may not be able to wear a face covering,” said BC Transit.

“BC Transit asks customers to please be kind to each other, and if someone is not wearing a face covering to assume they meet our exception criteria.”

The company adds that face shields will no longer qualify as face coverings on buses due to the opening they leave around a wearer’s mouth.