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Federal Transit Mask Mandate Effective Feb. 1, 2021
On Feb. 1, 2021, a new federal government requirement went into effect that requires the public to wear a mask that fully covers their mouth and nose while boarding and riding transit, and at transit facilities, including transit centers. Washington state already has a similar order in place, and Pierce Transit has been communicating with customers about the requirement to wear masks for many months now. We have also been providing masks on all our buses and have held mask-distribution events at transit centers. Each week, Pierce Transit, in cooperation with our partner Sound Transit, provides about 10,000 masks to customers aboard buses.
The new federal order now puts the force of federal law behind the Washington state transit mask requirement. This means that failure to “properly wear” a mask on board or at a transit center (see below) is a violation of federal law. Under the federal mandate, face shields do not qualify as a proper face covering. Face shields may be worn, but riders must also have a mask underneath that covers their nose and mouth.
The new federal mandate applies to all transit customers over the age of 2. It applies not only when boarding, deboarding and riding buses, but also to customers at transit centers, even if there is an opportunity to socially distance yourself from other transit customers.
Pierce Transit is actively monitoring mask use on our buses and at transit centers, reminding customers that wearing a mask is now federal law, and engaging public safety assistance when necessary. We are also educating customers through signage, digital communications, onboard announcements and many other avenues.
As a reminder, for passengers who have forgotten to bring a mask, a complimentary mask is available on Pierce Transit buses and SHUTTLE vans.
To “properly wear” a mask means:
- To wear mask completely covering both the nose and mouth.
- Cloth masks should be made with two or more layers of a breathable fabric that is tightly woven (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source).
- Mask should be secured to the head with ties, ear loops, or elastic bands that go behind the head.
- If gaiters are worn, they should have two layers of fabric or be folded to make two layers.
- Mask should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
- Mask should be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves or punctures.
Does not meet definition of “properly wear”:
- Masks worn in a way that does not cover both the mouth and nose completely.
- Face shields or goggles (face shields or goggles may be worn to supplement a mask that meets above required attributes).
- Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas or bandannas.
- Shirt or sweater collars (e.g., turtleneck collars) pulled up over the mouth and nose.
- Masks made from loosely woven fabric or that are knitted, i.e., fabrics that let light pass through.
- Masks made from materials that are hard to breathe through such as vinyl, plastic or leather.
- Masks containing slits, exhalation valves or punctures
- Masks that do not fit properly such as large gaps and fit too loose or too tight.
- Masks that have only one layer of fabric.
- Using a gaiter with only one layer, unless it has been folded to make it two layers.
Certain exclusions apply. For complete details about the new federal mask mandate, visit Transportation.gov/safety/mask-travel-guidance.