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Masking mandate no longer required on public transit

CENTRAL COAST, Calif. (KION-TV)-- The Transportation Security Administration will stop enforcing mask mandates on planes and public transit after a federal Florida judge declared that the CDC had exceeded its authority.

Local operating bus companies are now able to make their own decisions on if they will keep masking rules on public transportation.

“When we heard about the ruling from Florida as well as the TSA not seeking to challenge it. We felt like it was too confusing for our passengers and for the public to have one set of rules versus another set of rules, said Lisa Rheinheimer, Assistant General Manager for Monterey-Salinas Transit MST.

Apr. 29 would have marked the two-year anniversary of when MST decided to implement mask mandates on their buses.

A White House official said the CDC will continue to recommend that people on public transit still wear masks.

San Benito County Express is also lifting its mask requirements but will follow the CDC's guidelines.

“The fact that the drivers are out there on the streets in the community and I don’t want to put them in a position where they have to be enforcing something that unfortunately has become politicized," said Regina Valentine, Transportation planner for San Benito County Express.

The bus operating company has also planned to continue to keep the front seats of their buses marked off so there's some extra distance between the driver and passengers.

Santa Cruz Metro sent out a press release that stated, "METRO will no longer be requiring face masks for vaccinated individuals; instead the agency is strongly recommending face masks to be worn on METRO vehicles and at Transit Centers. Unvaccinated persons will still be required to wear a face mask onboard METRO vehicles and while inside a Transit Center."

Some people on the Central Coast said that they don't plan on ditching their masks anytime soon.

“I feel safer with masks, it makes a big difference," said Brayan Carranza, public transit passenger.

Some said that it's mostly because of the type of environment a bus setting has.

“I probably will still be wearing my mask on the bus just cause it's a tight space," said Emily Castro, public transit passenger.

The White House has reviewed the court's ruling and the Department of Justice DOJ has decided to appeal.

The DOJ and the CDC both disagree with the district court's decision.

The CDC said that the mask mandate order is necessary for public health.

They are reevaluating the mask mandate on May 3, and any appeal would come after this date passes.

All passengers should check with their local public transit services to view updated individual requirements.

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Joronica Vinluan

Reporter/ Weekend Producer for KION News Channel 5/46


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