Amtrak riders will soon be required to wear a face mask or facial covering.
Beginning Monday, the passenger railroad will require customers in stations, trains, and thruway buses to wear a facial covering to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Amtrak announced Thursday.
“The safety of Amtrak’s customers and employees is our top priority, and requiring a facial covering is one more way we can protect everyone,” Amtrak president and CEO William J. Flynn said in a statement. “Amtrak continues to operate as an essential service for those who must travel during this public health crisis. Our services will be even more critical as our nation recovers.”
Riders are to supply their own facial covering, and service will be denied to those without one, said Amtrak spokesperson Beth Toll. The requirement doesn’t apply to children who can’t “maintain a facial covering," according to Amtrak.
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Amtrak is introducing the requirement alongside other protective measures it’s taken against the pandemic, including sanitizing stations and vehicles, limiting bookings, accepting cashless payments, and encouraging social distancing.
The safety steps aren’t the only adjustments Amtrak has made amid the coronavirus. Amtrak has suspended some services while it faces plummeting ridership, with company executives expecting it will lose at least $700 million this year.
“Certainly this has presented an enormous challenge to the company,” board chairman Anthony R. Coscia said on a call with reporters last month. “Challenges in business are certainly commonplace, but this took that to a new level.”
Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine echoed the sentiment. Asked at a news conference if Pennsylvania’s mask mandate for life-sustaining businesses applies to public transit, she said: “I think it would be much better if on public transportation everyone wore a mask, and we are recommending that, but that wasn’t specifically part of this order."