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RTS changes guidance on mask wearing; due to NYS order, they are required for passengers and employees

Racquel Stephen
The RTS Transit Center in Rochester.

The RTS bus system in Rochester has changed its guidance about customers and employees and face mask wearing.

After a federal judge earlier this week threw out a national mask requirement for public transportation, many airlines, Amtrak and some transit organizations made mask-wearing optional. That included guidance from RTS on Tuesday.

But early on Wednesday morning, RTS released ‘updated mask guidance’ saying that following conversations with the office of New York Governor Kathy Hochul, it was made clear that the mask requirement on public transit in New York remains in effect for now, in line with a March 2 determination by the New York State Department of Health.

So, starting immediately, customers and employees must wear a face mask that covers their nose and mouth on all RTS buses and in the public areas of all RTS facilities.

The lifting of the mask mandate on various modes of public transportation has been a patchwork for guidance across the country.

Major airlines were among the first to update their rules after the court ruling, with several airlines saying masks would no longer be required on domestic flights.

At the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport, officials also have changed their guidance, after comments made by Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the local airport was indicated that masks inside the terminal were optional, but Airport Director Andy Moore issued this statement on Wednesday:

“Due to Governor Hochul’s announcement updating COVID regulations from the New York State Department of Health, masks will still be required in all public transportation entities within the State of New York. The order includes the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport. We will update if the policy changes.“

Amtrak also said it was making masks optional and Uber and Lyft said that masks will now be optional.

While masks are no longer required in various transportation settings, the CDC still recommends people wear masks when using public transportation.

This story includes reporting by the Associated Press.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.