Skip Navigation

Face Coverings on Public Transit is a Federal Mandate

Published Feb 10, 2021
ECAT (Escambia County Area Transit) would like to remind residents that face masks are required to ride public transportation. Free face masks have been provided since June 1 and will continue to be available. Face masks have also been required to ride ECAT since Dec. 21.

On Jan. 21, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order requiring mask wearing on all modes of public transportation including intercity buses and trains. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order which requires people to wear masks while on all public transportation and conveyances (trains, airplanes, ferries, etc.) and at transportation hubs. On Jan. 31, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) released a security directive to implement President Biden’s Executive Order and support enforcement of the CDC’s Order with an effective start date on Feb. 2, 2021. Read the detailed information on the President’s Order and the CDC’s Order, including definitions and instructions on wearing masks. 

"Although ECAT will have face masks available, riders are urged to plan ahead and bring their own face coverings before boarding any public transit," said ECAT Mass Transit Director Tonya Ellis. "We would like to thank our ridership for following these federal orders, making the ride enjoyable and safe for our customers and operators."  

According to these orders, operators must use best efforts to ensure that any person on the conveyance wears a mask when boarding, disembarking, and for the duration of travel or while entering or on the premises of the transportation hub. Depending on the circumstances, operators must take the following actions:

  • Board/allow entry only people who wear masks;
  • instruct people that wearing a mask on the conveyance/premises is a requirement of federal law and that not complying with the requirement is a violation of federal law;
  • monitor the conveyance/premises for any person who is not wearing a mask and seek compliance from such a person;
  • at the earliest safe opportunity, disembark/remove from premises any person who refuses to comply; and
  • notify people of the requirement to make sure they aware of and comply with the requirement to wear a mask. Examples of such notifications are messaging in apps, on websites or through email; posters in multiple languages with illustrations; and printing the information on tickets.

Riders also are required to properly wear the face covering according to CDC guidelines for their entire trip, including covering the face and nose. 

People are not required to wear a mask under the following circumstances:

  • while eating, drinking, or taking medication for brief periods of time;
  • while communicating, for brief periods of time, with a person who is hearing impaired when the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication;
  • if unconscious (for reasons other than sleeping), incapacitated, unable to be awakened, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance; or
  • when necessary to temporarily remove the mask to verify one’s identity such as during Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening or when asked to do so by the ticket or gate agent or any law enforcement official.

The following categories of people are exempt from the requirement to wear a mask:

  • A child under the age of 2 years;
  • A person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, for reasons related to the disability;
  • A person for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by the relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations.

If a passenger meets one of the above requirements that prevents mask wearing, please notify the bus operator. Social distancing will still be encouraged on all ECAT vehicles.

ECAT operators will also continue to wear masks. All ECAT employees are subject to temperature checks when they arrive to work as a precaution. ECAT continues to implement safety measures and increased bus and facility cleanings to ensure the safety of the passengers and employees.

Please call ECAT Customer Service at 850-595-3228 if you need assistance with a specific route or have additional questions. Updated information is also available at Like ECAT on Facebook.

Visit Us on Social Media

Escambia Countuy Logo

The mission of Escambia County government is to provide efficient, responsive services that enhance our quality of life, meet common needs and promote a safe and healthy community.

Under Florida law, IP addresses and both the content of emails and email addresses are public records. If you do not want your IP address and the content of your email or your email address released in response to a public records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in person.

All content © 2023 Escambia County, FL and its representatives. All rights reserved.