Amtrak Will No Longer Require Masks for Passengers and Employees
Amtrak will no longer require masks to be worn on board its trains as the COVID-19 mask mandate will no longer be enforced by the Transportation Security Administration.
"While Amtrak passengers and employees are no longer required to wear masks while on board trains or in stations, masks are welcome and remain an important preventive measure against COVID-19," the statement read. "Anyone needing or choosing to wear one is encouraged to do so."
Amtrak has required its customers and workers to wear masks since May of 2020. At the time, it also limited bookings, switched to cashless onboard payments, and promoted physical distancing on trains.
Since then, Amtrak has enhanced both its fleet and travel experiences to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. That includes contactless boarding, enhanced disinfection through a partnership with Lysol, and onboard filtration systems that exchange fresh air every four to five minutes.
"We've made and continue to make incredible investments so that we can come out of this pandemic as a new and improved Amtrak," the company's site reads.
Amtrak also requires its employees to either be vaccinated or take a COVID-19 test on a weekly basis.
The policy change comes a day after Tampa's U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled in a 59-page decision that the "mask mandate exceeds the CDC's statutory authority and violated the procedures required for agency rulemaking." While the ruling is being reviewed, the Biden administration confirmed on Monday night that the TSA will not enforce mask-wearing.
While airlines, ride-sharing services, and other forms public transportation have been announcing its own policies, it remains unclear whether the U.S. Department of Justice will file an appeal to halt the order.
The sudden dropping of mask regulations on public transportation comes just weeks before the current mandate was set to expire on May 3. It comes at a time when COVID-19 numbers are on the rise again and mask-wearing has been encouraged — and even enforced — again, with cities like Philadelphia reinstating its indoor mask mandate on Monday.