Los Gatos Weekly Times

Transit agencies end mask mandates

- By Summer Lin slin@bayareanew­sgroup.com

The Santa Clara Valley Transporta­tion Authority, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Caltrain and the San Francisco Municipal Transporta­tion Agency announced April 20 they were dropping their mask requiremen­ts aboard buses, trains and paratransi­t vehicles and at facilities.

The news comes after a federal judge in Florida voided a mask mandate on mass transit and airplanes April 18, prompting airlines to roll back their masking requiremen­ts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously extended the mandate through May 3. The CDC announced April 20 it would appeal the ruling, declaring in a statement “at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transporta­tion corridor remains necessary for the public health.”

But for now, airlines, airports, ridesharin­g companies and many transit agencies have dropped their mask mandates as the legal and political showdown over masks continues to play out.

“In light of recent decisions by the federal government to lift mask requiremen­ts on public transit, VTA is strongly recommendi­ng, but not requiring passengers and employees to wear masks,” said VTA spokespers­on Stacey Hendler Ross in a news release.

Ross emphasized that the lifting of requiremen­ts “does not signal an end to the COVID-19 pandemic” and that experts “still recommend wearing face masks in a variety of settings, including mass transit.”

The VTA in the process of taking down signs requiring masks.

Caltrain, BART and the San Francisco Municipal Transporta­tion Agency on April 20 also announced they would no longer require riders to wear masks inside their vehicles and facilities. However, all three agencies encouraged riders to continue wearing masks.

“While masks are no longer required, guests can and are strongly encouraged to continue wearing them,” Caltrain said in a social media post announcing the shift in policy.

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