Metro transit leaders applaud federal mask order for public transportation

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Beginning Tuesday, travelers and commuters are now required to wear masks on nearly all forms of public transit and while at transportation hubs.

Local mask requirements already in place now have the teeth of federal law behind them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the latest order. Failure to comply is a violation of federal law.

Masks must now be worn over the nose and mouth for travelers on planes, trains, streetcars, buses, taxis, rideshare services and ships. People also have to wear a mask inside an airport, bus terminal or train station.

The mandate applies to nearly everyone older than 2 years.

A Kansas City public health order has been in place since June 2020 requiring masks on public transit vehicles. The city’s streetcar authority said the federal law now adds uniformity to rules for an entire nation.

“No matter what state you are in or what jurisdiction, we are all complying by the same mandate; that face masks are helpful in keeping us all safe. That is extremely helpful,” Donna Mandelbaum, of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, said. “Extremely helpful to visitors here in Kansas City that, no matter where they are coming from, we are all playing from the same playbook.”

According to the CDC, increasing universal mask wearing by 15% will help prevent lockdowns and reduce losses of up to $1 trillion dollars to our economy.

“When the pandemic started, RideKC made a commitment to follow CDC guidance to take proactive measures to protect our employees and community from the impact of COVID-19,” Robbie Makinen, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority president and CEO, said. “Following the new order confirms our commitment to keeping the public safe and providing zero fare transit for essential trips.”

The federal government said people who don’t wear masks won’t be allowed to board public transportation. The order can be enforced by state, federal or local authorities.

The requirement does not cover disabled individuals who can’t wear a mask or private vehicles for personal use. People also will be allowed to take their masks off when eating and drinking or to identify themselves.

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