REGINA -- The City of Regina has confirmed a transit employee tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating.

"The Saskatchewan Health Authority has confirmed that the exposure to COVID-19 was not work related," Kim Onrait, executive director of citizen services with the City of Regina, said.

The employee last worked from Oct. 8 to 10, according to city officials, and all workspaces and vehicles used by the employee have been thoroughly sanitized.

"We’re very concerned about the risk that this presents to the thousands of people who take transit each and every day," Mayor Michael Fougere said.

Prior to reopening transit services in the city in June, protective barriers were installed around drivers to limit the exposure and interaction between staff and residents.

Drivers are also provided with masks and cleaning supplies to use in the driver compartment during their shifts.

"The number one priority for the City of Regina is the safety of employees and the residents across the city, we’ll take steps whenever we can to ensure that people are safe in our city," Fougere said.

The City made masks mandatory on all transit on Aug. 31, however, riders were still allowed on buses without masks with an 85-90 per cent compliance rate.

"I urge residents to put their masks on before boarding our transit," Onrait said.

The Mayor plans on bringing forward a motion at this month’s City Council meeting to make mask use compulsory and enforced on transit.

"We want to protect those drivers who are concerned of course and of course, the passengers as well, who need and should have the right to travel safely," Fougere said.

The motion will need to pass through a vote at City Council, but Fougere said the goal is to have the new bylaw in place by the end of the month.

"This is a necessary step to ensure the public’s safety and I’m confident my colleagues on council will share this concern," Fougere said.

City officials are still working on how to enforce the mandatory mask bylaw on transit, however, they ensured it will not be the drivers responsibility.

"The bus driver is there to drive the bus, but there are options in terms of bylaw enforcement officers or the [Regina Police Service]," Fougere said.

"Depending on what the actual bylaw is and if it passes, we will determine at that time who would be enforcing it," Onrait added.

According to the City, almost 4,500 masks have been provided to transit users since making them mandatory and it will be increasing the number of locations where staff will distribute masks to passengers who don’t have one.

Starting on Monday Oct. 19, staff will be distributing masks on weekdays from 6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. at ten locations:

  • 11 Avenue between Lorne Street and Rose Street (both sides of street)
  • Golden Mile Shopping Centre
  • Normanview Crossing
  • 12 Avenue between Smith Street and McIntyre Street (behind City Hall)
  • University of Regina at the Riddell stop
  • Harvard Way at Grasslands Drive (Harbour Landing Walmart)
  • Northgate Mall
  • Superstore East
  • Glencairn Shopping Centre

"There really is no excuse to not have a mask because you will be able to get one as you go on the bus," Fougere said.

Fougere added the City still isn’t considering making mask mandatory in all public places due to the ability to physical distance in most facilities.