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Public Transit Mask Mandate Extended, ECAT Following All Federal Guidelines

Published Dec 6, 2021
Following President Biden's Dec. 2 announcement that masks will continue to be required aboard public transit systems until March 18, 2022, ECAT (Escambia County Area Transit) would like to remind patrons that face masks are required aboard all buses and in indoor bus terminals and other transportation hubs. 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, 2020.

On Jan. 21, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order requiring masks on all modes of public transportation including intercity buses and trains. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order requiring people to wear masks while on airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares 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. 

"ECAT understands that this is a trying time for everyone," said ECAT Interim Director Rodriques Kimbrough. "We want to thank our citizens in advance for following our guidelines. Mask mandates are for the safety of our ridership as well as our bus operators and staff. By following the mask mandates, we can continue to provide a safe and enjoyable ride experience for our community."

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:

  • Allow entry only to 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 www.goECAT.com. Like ECAT on Facebook.

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