June 30, 2020
Four vending machines selling face coverings, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes were installed inside Suburban Station in Center City on Tuesday.
The machines sell three-ply, surgical masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes costing $3 apiece. Customers can pay with cash, credit and debit cards or contactless methods. New York startup RapidMask2G operates the machines and announced their arrival in Philadelphia via Instagram.
Billy Penn reported two of the four dispensers are on the main SEPTA Regional Rail platform near the benches and Suburban Station's ticket booth, and the other two vending machines can be found in the corridor heading east toward the station's restaurants.
RapidMask2Go's founder, David Edelman, got the idea to start selling PPE four months ago after finding it impossible to find reliable companies selling personal protective equipment. Edelman has a son who is at risk of developing complications should he contract the coronavirus.
"We tried ordering online, they never showed up," Edelman said to Billy Penn. "There were a lot of fake sites out there pretending to sell protective equipment."
RapidMask2Go already has 10 PPE vending machines in New York City and sells facemasks and the other protective items on the company's website.
These PPE vending machines at Suburban Station come as SEPTA prepares to ramp up its Regional Rail service on Monday. Since early June, all SEPTA riders have been required to wear face coverings to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Philadelphia officials have mandated that people wear masks in all indoor public places and outdoors when less than 6 feet away from individuals from other households. Limited exceptions, such as for children younger than 8 years old, are allowed. The purpose of it is to prevent a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak.
Head counts conducted by health department inspectors in June found that about 55% of Philadelphia residents were wearing masks at SEPTA stations.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone wear cloth masks when outside 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 the coronavirus.