EVERETT — Passengers can board local buses, planes at Paine Field and ferries without a mask after a federal judge in Florida ended the national requirement for aircraft and public transit Monday.
Or they can keep them on, if they want, as case counts rose for the third consecutive week in Snohomish County.
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, Florida halted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s requirement, CBS News reported. The mandate exceeded the agency’s authority, Mizelle wrote in the ruling.
In a joint statement Tuesday, transit agencies throughout Puget Sound — including Community Transit, Everett Transit and Sound Transit — announced they would no longer require masks on buses and trains, or at stations and stops.
Community Transit spokesperson Martin Munguia said the agency stopped its mandate after the Transportation Security Administration rescinded the two-week extension of the national mask policy, effectively ending it at midnight.
But Community Transit notes the CDC’s recommendation for people with weakened immune systems, or those at higher risk of severe disease, to keep wearing them in “crowded indoor settings.”
Similarly, the Snohomish Health District recommends people wear masks on planes and buses and their respective stations and terminals.
“Given the recent increase in cases, the commingling of people at transportation hubs, variable distancing and ventilation, and the relative ease and effectiveness of mask wearing, I strongly encourage people to wear masks in those settings even if masks are not required,” Snohomish Health District Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters said in a statement. “I would ask transportation agencies to encourage masking and support those who do wisely elect to wear them. While this recommendation applies to all passengers and visitors, it is particularly important for people who are not vaccinated, are not up-to-date on vaccinations, or who are at high risk for severe disease from COVID-19.”
Washington State Ferries won’t require masks on its ships or terminals.
Travelers going through Paine Field also have a choice to wear a mask in the terminal in Everett.
Alaska Airlines, the major carrier at Paine Field, won’t require them aboard their planes flying within the country or to Belize, Costa Rica or Mexico. But passengers must wear them if flying to or from Canada.
Ben Watanabe: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.
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