A look at how the recent ruling impacts Santa Barbara transit
Face masks are now optional on public transportation and in transportation hubs in Santa Barbara.
A federal judge, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, ended the sweeping mask mandate on airplanes and other public transit areas on Monday. Many airlines, including American, Delta, Southwest and United, have dropped their mask requirements in the wake of the ruling.
The Transportation Security Administration said it will no longer enforce its requirement for mask use on public transportation and in transit hubs. However, it noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends people wear masks in indoor transit settings.
The Department of Justice has said it would appeal the ruling if the CDC believes the mandate needs to remain in place.
So what does this mean for Santa Barbara transit in the time being?
Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District will no longer require masks for riders or employees on its bus services, it announced Tuesday morning.
Still, masks are highly recommended by the MTD, especially for those who are not vaccinated against COVID. And employees will still be subjected to daily health screenings while buses are cleaned and sanitized daily.
“The health and safety of our employees and riders remains a top priority,” the MTD said in a statement.
Santa Barbara Airport will no longer require masks inside its terminal for both employees and guests. Signs instructing people to wear masks were replaced with new posters saying masks are recommended at the airport on Tuesday.
The airport encouraged passengers to check with their airlines and destinations for further mask-wearing guidance.
The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport instructed: “Effective immediately, the federal face covering requirements will no longer be enforced at airports, aboard aircraft and all public transportation. However, travelers are encouraged to check with their respective airlines prior to travel for individual requirements.”
Amtrak is still encouraging mask wearing but will not mandate it.
“While Amtrak passengers and employees are no longer required to wear masks while on board trains or in train stations, masks are welcome and remain an important preventative measure against COVID-19,” the railroad service said. “Anyone needing or choosing to wear one is encouraged to do so.”
Uber has also updated its mask and front-seat policy in the wake of the ruling. The ride-hailing company said face coverings are no longer required for drivers or passengers but are still recommended.
Additionally, riders can sit in the front seat of cars again, although Uber asked customers to only do so if it’s needed due to the size of a group.
Lyft, too, said masks are now optional and instructed both passengers and drivers not to ride or drive if they have COVID-19 or related symptoms.
Some public transit agencies and airports in other parts of the country — such as O’Hare International Airport — will continue to enforce local guidance requiring masks indoors or on public transit.