One of the last remnants of an arrest during the Gulf region pandemic – BART’s mandatory face-covering policy – could become a relic on Thursday.
The transport agency’s board of directors will vote Thursday night on whether to effectively end the mandate on October 1 and delegate future masking powers to Robert Powers, BART’s CEO. Eligibility would be allowed to reinstate the mask mandate only if certain conditions are met, including COVID-19 cases escalating locally or nationwide, or if the mask mandate is reinstated in any of the five Bay Area counties where BART operates .
“Neither of these conditions is currently met,” said Alicia Trost, a spokesman for BART. “Something may change in the next few days, but it is very unlikely.”
If approved by the board of directors, Thursday’s vote will be the fifth BART cloaking policy change as of April.
BART has struggled with the mandate since a Florida court overturned the federal mask requirement for President Joe Biden. While most other agencies have dropped out of covering the requirements, BART – a rare transit operator with elected management – is open to the plight of its elderly immunocompromised passengers.
But the agency was also irritated by the enforcement of the mask requirement, while each Bay Area county dropped most of the mandatory mask rules a few months ago. Only one other Bay Area bus operator – AC Transit East Bay – still requires masks. New York recently switched to a policy of optional masks in the crowded subways and Los Angeles it may also end public transport disguise tickets this month.
Regardless of the policy of masking, BART players are increasingly leaving their face shields at home. According to the agency’s mask count, 85% of riders wore a mask at the end of August, compared with 97% in January. While BART’s masking policy is mandatory, passengers who do not cover face little or no repercussions.
Check back to learn more about this unfolding story.
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