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April 16, 2020

SEPTA providing surgical masks to riders, but is no longer making riders wear them

Limited supplies available on select subways, buses and trolleys

SEPTA Coronavirus
SEPTA free surgical masks UrbanPerspectiV Follow/Flickr

SEPTA will provide free surgical masks to riders on select subways, buses and trolleys, and at some stations. But the transit authority is no longer enforcing a policy requiring passengers to wear masks.

SEPTA is providing riders with free surgical masks on some subways, buses and trolleys, the transit authority announced Wednesday.

Masks will be available on the Market-Frankford Line, Broad Street Line and various buses and trolleys while supplies last, NBC10 reportedVehicles departing from 69th, 15th, Suburban and Jefferson stations also may have some masks on board.

The masks will be placed in plastic bags with signs indicating their availability so that riders can grab them without coming in contact with a driver. 

Supplies are limited and will likely run out, a spokesman told NBC10. SEPTA plans to distribute 20,000 masks among passengers, CBS3 reported. The authority has acquired 500,000 surgical masks within the last two weeks primarily to benefit employees. 

The announcement comes after police forcibly removed a man from a SEPTA bus after the driver allegedly asked the passenger to leave because he was not wearing a mask. A video of the incident circulated online. Police released a statement saying the man caused a disturbance after being asked to leave. 

At the time, SEPTA was requiring all passengers to wear masks or face covering. That policy is no longer being enforced, but SEPTA officials are urging riders to wear masks to protect their staff. At least three SEPTA employees have died of coronavirus complications. Dozens of others have tested positive for COVID-19.

SEPTA also recently switched to a "Lifeline Service Schedule" and began refunding some weekly and monthly passes amid the state's stay-at-home order.

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