Revenue Protection Officer Shawn Miller checks the PRESTO card of a Lakeshore West customer on their way to Union Station. Fare inspectors look a little different as a result of COVID-19, equipped with face coverings, goggles, rubber nitrile gloves and hand sanitizer for everyone’s added safety. (Matt Llewellyn photo)

Metrolinx COVID update – From GO-VAXX Bus to where to find pop-up holiday free test kits

As we edge toward the holidays, some things may slow down. But the fight against the pandemic continues – and even doubles-down lately. Here are the latest updates on that front from Metrolinx.

Metrolinx has introduced a number of strengthened measures to ensure  employees and customers continue to remain safe as COVID-19 cases climb again.

Along with all of the dozens of safety actions in place since March 2020, vaccination remains a key part of protection for all.

Metrolinx has been supporting staff – who are required to have two doses of vaccine – to get a booster shot as soon as eligible. If needed, staff are provided with paid time off to get that booster.

Throughout the pandemic, Metrolinx has also been actively supporting the province’s efforts to get the public vaccinated.

GO Bear is shown outside one of the VAXX buses.
GO Bear is shown outside one of the VAXX buses. (Metrolinx photo)

An example of this are three GO-VAXX buses – the mobile clinics now provide thousands of first, second and booster shots, as well as shots for children age five to 11. In partnership with the province, the buses travel to malls, workplaces, community centres and other hubs.

The retrofitted GO-VAXX buses are operated by GO bus drivers and have been safely rolling into communities where vaccines are needed

Some of the scheduled stops for the GO-VAXX buses, as well as at select GO Stations, may also have free rapid testing kits available – a new strategy to help identify new infections early and stop the spread.

Check out the GO-VAXX and pop-up holiday free test kit schedules.

To get even more people protected, the province has also opened up eligibility as of December 20 to all 18+ adults and reduced the waiting period between last shot and booster to three months. You can find all the details here.

Anne Marie Aikins proudly shows proof of her COVID 'jab'.
Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx head of media and public relations (and author of this post), proudly shows proof of her COVID ‘jab’, in this file photo. (Metrolinx photo)

Staff numbers updated

In the past 20 months, the total number of Metrolinx staff testing positive for the virus is now 187 out of more than 4,700 employees. All but eight have been infected outside of the workplace – a reminder to keep a guard up both at work and in personal lives.

In the past few weeks, as cases rose across the province, fueled by the Omicron variant, Metrolinx implemented some additional safety measures including offering all office staff the option of continuing to work from home. For staff who go into the workplace or are on the frontlines, there will also be self-administered rapid tests and N95 masks available. Medical masks remain standard for all employees.

Ensuring staff remain healthy and available to continue to provide excellent customer service is critically important. 

Metrolinx continues the effort, started at the beginning of the pandemic, to share the latest numbers and measures being taken, for both the public and employees.

During the holidays, the obvious becomes vital: wear a mask on public transit, limit eating or drinking on transit to keep masks secured, stay home if ill, and continue hand washing.

And strongly consider protecting the people around – never knowing if someone is immunocompromised – by getting vaccinated.

Continued safety and health are the best gifts this time of year – as well as every other day on the calendar.

Story by Anne Marie Aikins, head of media and public relations.Find her on Twitter @MetrolinxSpox