SAN ANTONIO – Masks are now optional in all VIA Metropolitan Transit vehicles and facilities after a federal judge in Florida threw out the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s order that required masks on all public transportation.
The judge’s decision allows airlines, airports and mass transit systems to make their own decisions about mask requirements.
On Monday, VIA issued a statement saying they would require masks through May 3, as recommended by the CDC, but reversed that decision on Tuesday — effective immediately.
Daily VIA bus rider Michael LeBlanc says he feels relieved he no longer has to worry about wearing a mask on his daily commute.
“I’m tired of wearing a mask,” LeBlanc said. “It’s just been too long.”
Masks are now optional but are encouraged where social distancing is not possible.
“Customers and employees are encouraged to make decisions that are in their best interests,” VIA officials said in a statement.
VIA rider Derrick Banks said he’s glad he doesn’t have to worry about forgetting his mask at home. He says he supports the lift but will remain cautious.
“It is a good thing but it does make you leery as well too because there are people who aren’t vaccinated it kind of puts them in a different pool next to people who are vaccinated. So it kind of gives you a fifty-fifty feeling about it,” Banks said. “So sometimes you want that precautionary measure to stay there as well.”
VIA also said that anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 is asked not to take public transit.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa said the CDC overstepped its authority in issuing the original health order on which the TSA directive was based.