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May 08, 2020

Amtrak riders now required to wear face masks due to COVID-19 pandemic

Face coverings must be worn on both trains and in stations

Transportation Amtrak
Amtrak face coverings Johannes Krupinski/via Unsplash

Amtrak riders will have to start wearing face masks on trains and in stations starting on Monday.

Amtrak will now require customers to wear face masks over the nose and mouth when riding on trains and thruway buses, as well as when situated in stations, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the transportation company announced on Thursday. The measure goes into effect on Monday.

Face masks can be taken off when customers are eating in designated areas, in private rooms, or seated alone or with a travel companion in their own pair of seats. Small children who are unable to wear a face covering are exempt from the rule, the company said. 

The decision to require riders to wear face coverings while on trains and in stations is an added measure of protection for customers and employees, Amtrak said.

“The safety of Amtrak’s customers and employees is our top priority and requiring a facial covering is one more way we can protect everyone,” said Amtrak President and CEO Bill Flynn. “Amtrak continues to operate as an essential service for those who must travel during this public health crisis. Our services will be even more critical as our nation recovers.”

Amtrak’s announcement on face masks is the latest in a series of initiatives taken by the company to keep trains and stations clean, as well as customers and employees safe and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Amtrak has been limiting bookings by keeping capacity to 50% on its trains to enforce social distancing guidelines, only processing cashless payments in stations and on trains, and limiting seating in dining areas. The company has also placed signage across its stations to enforce social distancing in typically-crowded areas such as waiting rooms, ticket offices, lounge areas, and escalators.

The CDC has recommended everyone wear cloth masks when leaving their homes. The masks do not protect the person who wears them; rather, they prevent sick individuals – including those who do not have symptoms – from spreading their germs. Some 25% of people infected by the coronavirus do not display symptoms, but they may still be able to transmit the virus. 

New Jersey Transit and private carrier riders are required to wear face masks when traveling, and workers are required to wear face masks and gloves while on the job. NJ Transit and private carriers are also required to limit capacity on all trains, buses, light rail vehicles, and paratransit vehicles to 50% of the maximum number of passengers allowed onboard in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

SEPTA customers are not required to wear face masks, but have been strongly encouraged by SEPTA officials to do so when riding on trains, subways, buses, and trolleys to protect staff. The transit authority has provided surgical masks to riders on some subways—including the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines—buses, and trolleys.

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