Effective Monday, February 8, DASH is modifying our facial mask policy to align with the newly expanded federal mask mandate. Masks are now mandatory on all modes of public transit and in all transportation hubs, facilities and vehicles, including bus stops. Passengers who refuse to wear a mask will not be permitted to board the bus. If someone removes their mask after boarding and refuses to wear it, they will be required to disembark the bus as soon as safely possible, such as at the nearest stop.
DASH maintains a supply of masks on every bus for passengers without masks who cannot delay their trip to obtain one. If you do not have a mask, simply ask your operator for one when you board the bus.
To whom does this mandate apply?
DASH passengers and employees are subject to this mandate. The Executive Order defines public transportation as, “all forms of public transportation as defined in section 5302 of title 49, United States Code.” Given that definition, DASH passengers and employees are subject to the mandate.
What will the Security Directive cover?
It requires CDC-approved masks be worn by public transportation personnel (including contractors) and passengers at all times within the system. That means onboard vehicles, in stations, on platforms and at stops or any fixed facility where passengers are picked up and discharged. The Security Directive clearly defines conveyances and facilities covered.
Further, the directive requires public transportation operators to notify passengers of the requirement. Please note that CDC-approved masks does not exclusively mean N95 masks. This mask-wearing mandate will be in place until further notice.
Are there any exemptions to the mask-wearing mandate?
Yes. Both the CDC order and TSA Security Directive provide specific circumstances under which the mask wearing mandate does not apply – for example, children younger than two years old.
How does the mandate deal with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
Both the CDC order and TSA Security Directive provide specific references to people who are exempted from the mandate. One such exemption is for anyone who cannot wear a mask, or who cannot safely wear a mask, because of a disability as defined by the ADA.
Are there other details?
The goal of the Security Directive is to ensure the safety of the traveling public and public transportation employees. Operators will be allowed and expected to deny boarding to passengers not wearing a mask. If someone removes their mask after boarding and refuses to wear it, they will be required to disembark the bus as soon as safely possible, such as at the nearest stop.
TSA noted that it will have inspectors and enforcement authority, including the ability to levy fines. In cases where an inspector notices passengers or employees not wearing masks, the inspector will notify the transit system. In any instance where law enforcement becomes involved and that causes a significant security concern, TSA will require public transportation agencies to report those instances through a reporting system.
Both TSA and CDC emphasize that wearing masks on public transportation to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is the clear objective – and that instances where a passenger is denied a trip because they refuse to wear a mask are considered effectively closed and would require no reporting on the part of the agency.
DASH will continue to monitor trends, follow the recommendations of federal, state and local health officials and adjust service and policies accordingly. We will continue to communicate relevant information, including service adjustments and policy changes, onboard our buses, and online using various digital platforms, including this website and social media.