One day after telling the Steamship Authority board that they would continue to impose a mask mandate on ferries, the SSA has reversed course and is lifting the mandate to wear a face covering for employees and passengers.
“On Tuesday, April 19, 2022, the U.S. Coast Guard issued an updated Marine Safety Information Bulletin regarding COVID-19 Safety Requirements in the Maritime Transportation System. In it, the Coast Guard stated that it will no longer enforce directives regarding mask use on public transportation and in transportation hubs,” a release from the SSA states. “Accordingly, the Steamship Authority will no longer be requiring masks to be worn at its terminals or on its ferries. Masks are also no longer required on its shuttle buses in accordance with a similar directive issued Tuesday by the Federal Transit Administration.”
The directive follows a federal court ruling that shot down federal mask mandates, despite recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that recommends wearing masks while riding on public transportation.
“This change is effective immediately, although customers will continue to see mask signage on vessels, on buses, and at terminals in the short term while we update those materials,” the release states. “We thank our employees and their customers for their cooperation and assistance.”
The SSA was slow to implement a mask mandate early on during the pandemic, refusing to do so until it was ordered. Throughout the pandemic, the SSA has faced public scrutiny for failing to enforce the mandate and for some of its own employees failing to comply.