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Business News/ News / Covid is not over yet: Need to wear masks on public transit in these US cities
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Covid is not over yet: Need to wear masks on public transit in these US cities

The moves come after a U.S. judge on Monday overturned the federal mandate for passengers to cover their faces

In New York the positivity rate is 7.30%, with 4,296 new cases as of Monday, the state reports. (AFP)Premium
In New York the positivity rate is 7.30%, with 4,296 new cases as of Monday, the state reports. (AFP)

Some transit agencies across the U.S. are clambering to adjust their masking requirements, while others are keeping the rules in place after a federal judge struck down the mandate for such coverings on planes, trains and other modes of public transportation. 

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the largest mass-transit provider in the U.S., is still requiring masks despite the federal mandate being lifted, while Amtrak is removing its mask mandate for passengers and employees. In New Jersey, the transit system will no longer enforce a mask mandate in public transportation settings, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said in a tweet early Tuesday. 

The moves come after a U.S. judge on Monday overturned the federal mandate for passengers to cover their faces. While the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommend the use of face coverings, both said orders requiring masks on public transportation would no longer be enforced.

The changes have led to some confusion among riders of public transit. Some are glad to see New York keep its requirement, like Danny Pearlstein, a spokesperson for Riders Alliance, a transportation advocacy group. Still, he noted it might make sense for cities to tailor their own rules. 

“Public transit is something where there’s been so much sensationalism, so much hammering around the safety of public transit that on top of everything else, New Yorkers don’t want to have to worry about getting sick on trains." Pearlstein said in a phone interview. “People are wearing masks really without a second thought."

In March, U.S. airlines had asked the Biden administration to end the masking requirement for public transport, but last week the CDC extended the ban until May 3 as it reviews data on Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations driven by the BA.2 subvariant.

In New York the positivity rate is 7.30%, with 4,296 new cases as of Monday, the state reports. That compares to a 1.3% positivity rate a month ago, according to state data.

“The mask requirement on public transit in NY remains in effect for now pursuant to a March 2, 2022 determination by the New York State Department of Health," MTA Communications Director Tim Minton said in an emailed statement. 

The MTA’s chair and chief executive officer Janno Lieber has said he would like to see no masks on the city’s trains and buses. New York Governor Kathy Hochul in a tweet Tuesday said masks are still required on the MTA. 

Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. will no longer ask riders and drivers in the U.S. to wear masks, but they must follow local guidelines. For example, in New York, they must still wear masks, according to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

The Chicago Transit Authority in an emailed statement said, “The CTA continues to require masks on trains and buses, in accordance with the requirements of the Governor’s Executive Order 2022-10, which requires masks on public transportation." The Chicago Department of Aviation will also mandate masks at its airports following the governor’s executive order.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates the city’s Muni trains, buses and cable cars, is keeping the mandate in place “for the time being," the agency said in a tweet. In Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which runs the city’s subways and other transit, tweeted that masks are still required in their vehicles and stations.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority are lifting their mask mandates. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the New York City area’s three major airports, said masks will be required at its New York facilities and lifted at its New Jersey facilities. 

Several major cities in Texas are no longer requiring masks on public transit. DART, the bus and light rail system in Dallas, said it will no longer require passengers or operators to wear face coverings while on DART vehicles or facilities. San Antonio’s public transit, VIA, is also making mask-wearing optional for employees and customers beginning Tuesday. And CapMetro, the public transit authority in Austin, said customers are longer required to wear masks following the TSA announcement. 

Houston-area mass transit no longer is enforcing a mask mandate and will have signs directing passengers to cover their faces removed in a day or two, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County said in a tweet on Tuesday. Metro police and drivers have been directed to stop urging passengers to mask up.


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Published: 20 Apr 2022, 11:58 AM IST
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