Bay Area transit agencies debate whether to keep mask mandate | News

Bus driver Jesus Rivera inspects his bus before beginning service on Route 22, which serves Palo Alto, at VTA North Yard in Mountain View. Embarcadero Media file photo by Michelle Le.

A ruling Monday by a federal judge in Florida overturning mask mandates on public transportation does not appear to immediately change the policies of local transit agencies.

Representatives from BART, San Francisco Municipal Railroad, Caltrain, transit services The Vine and Solano County Transit all said passengers and staff are still required to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 until at least May 3, the previous end date for federal mask mandates.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of Florida ruled the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was not authorized to enforce the travel and transit mask mandate. The ruling has local agencies scrambling to determine whether to honor the federal ruling or keep the masking in place.

A BART spokesperson said the agency is currently considering what to do in the face of the sudden change in federal guidelines.

“We have not yet made an official or final decision,” the BART spokesperson said. “We are currently in contact with other transit agencies in the Bay Area and are looking to see if there is any movement at the local, state or federal level regarding a mandate. Things moved quickly yesterday and the dust hasn’t settled yet.”