Summit County public transit systems lift mask mandate |

Summit County public transit systems lift mask mandate

Passengers unload from a Summit Stage bus Tuesday, Aug. 31, in Frisco. Because of a federal court decision, passengers who wish to use public transit in Summit County will no longer be required to wear masks or face coverings.
Photo by Grace Coomaraswamy Photography/Courtesy photo

Residents and visitors who use public transit in Summit County will no longer have to wear masks while riding the bus. The news comes after a recent federal court decision stopped the requirement and enforcement of mask use on public transit nationwide.

As of Monday, April 18, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration dropped the enforcement of mask mandates in transportation settings, including in airports and on bus routes.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the Middle District of Florida filed a 59-page decision on April 18 that said the mask requirement “exceeds the CDC’s statutory authority and violates the procedures required for agency rulemaking under the (Administrative Procedure Act).”

Since then, federal offices have lifted mask requirements, which means that individual municipalities and transit systems have been tasked with deciding how to proceed.

Summit Stage transit director Chris Lubbers said there will be no more mask requirements for riders that use the his department’s buses to travel across Summit County as of Tuesday morning.

“We’re doing it because after TSA lifted its mandates, the FTA — the Federal Transit Administration — lifted theirs,” Lubbers said. “Because we follow FTA, that’s when we decided to lift ours.”

Lubbers said the mask requirement was the last of Summit Stage’s public health measures, so now riders who use the service are back to a normal rider experience. Summit Stage buses have been operating at full capacity since May.

For Summit County riders who use Bustang’s West Line routes to get to and from the Front Range or Grand Junction, their experience will be similar.

Colorado Department of Transportation spokesperson Bob Wilson said that the department’s statewide Bustang services also removed its mask requirements on Tuesday morning, but passengers who wish to wear masks are fully permitted to do so.

“For the general public, we were taking a number of precautions for public health — as far as cleaning the buses after they ran, the Plexiglas grades between the driver and the passengers, cleaning compartment areas and those kinds of things,” Wilson said. “As for passengers, masks were the only requirement left for them.”

Denver International Airport echoed the same sentiments, according to a news alert issued after the federal court decision. Masks are no longer required inside the airport, but individual airlines or destinations may still require them. Airport officials are still encouraging passengers to at least carry one with them when they travel so their plans aren’t affected by privately-enforced mandates.

Mask requirements at transportation hubs were the last of federal mandates regarding facial coverings, meaning there are no more restrictions required at the national level.

Over the past two weeks, Summit County’s COVID-19 cases have remained steady at a rate of about 88 cases per 100,000 people, according to data reported Saturday.

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