Restrictions are relaxing across the country as officials believe they are getting a handle on the coronavirus pandemic — but for public transportation, at least, some rules are holding firm for another few months.

Several public transit agencies announced this week that mask requirements will remain in effect for riders through Sept. 13. The decision, according to a joint statement from the agencies, adheres to a recent federal mandate.

Lebanon Transit, Capital Area Transit, Rabbit Transit, the Red Rose Transit Authority and BARTA “are among the region’s grantees who receive Federal Transit Administration funding and are obligated to comply with the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) mask mandate” until Sept. 13, the statement explains.

Some people might be confused about the mandate’s seeming conflict with Gov. Tom Wolf’s order on June 28, lifting masking requirements unless they are required to do so by a business or organization.

Wolf’s decision, according to Dave Kilmer, executive director of the South Central Transit Authority, “does not change the facemask requirement for transit riders.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also lifted masking requirements for people who are fully vaccinated; however, the CDC “still requires those traveling on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation or at indoor transportation hubs to wear a mask,” the statement reads.

“While we are all working towards a return to normal, we ask our customers to continue to mask-up prior to boarding,” Lebanon Transit‘s executive director Theresa Giurintano said in a statement. “Wearing a mask will help the transit providers remain compliant with Federal requirements and avoid unnecessary travel delays.”

The FTA amended its master agreement with local transit authorities to incorporate new CDC requirements. Richard Farr, executive director of both Capital Area Transit and Rabbit Transit, said violating the order could cost federal funding, which would mean “local service across countless communities wouldn’t exist.”

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