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Biden’s public transportation mask mandate goes into effect

Many Cedar Rapids transportation systems are already prepared for a nationwide mask mandate for all public transportation that goes into effect Tuesday.
Published: Feb. 2, 2021 at 3:48 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Passengers using public transportation are now required to wear masks.

This comes as President Biden’s new mask mandate comes into effect, impacting people on any form of public transportation including taxies, planes, trains, buses, boats, subways, and ride-shares. The goal is to help prevent further spread of the coronavirus and make travel safety rules more unified across the country.

The Cedar Rapids Transit manager, Brad DeBrower, said so far throughout the pandemic, riders have been fairly compliant when it comes to wearing face coverings, so he expects the new mandate won’t change much. They’ve required facial coverings on riders and drivers since the beginning of the pandemic last March.

The CDC says people violating the mandate could face a criminal penalty, but they hope people will follow the president’s mandate voluntarily.

They say violators may be denied entry, boarding or continued transport and could also face civil penalties for refusing to comply.

The Cedar Rapids Transit manager said a civil penalty could include being banned from the transit system.

“The civil penalty for us could be we can ban people from riding. We can say, if you don’t want to comply with our rules and you’re a repeat offender, we don’t have to allow you to ride our service,” said DeBrower.

Under the new mandate, riders masks need to have at least two or more layers of breathable fabric. Scarves and bandanas do not meet the new mandate standard.

DeBrower said people using a bandana to cover their face on rides at Cedar Rapids Transit will need to add another layer to meet the standard. He says extra masks are always available.

American Class Taxi in Cedar Rapids said the mandate rules should be nothing new for their passengers and drivers.

The co-owner of American Class Taxi said at the beginning of the pandemic last March, they didn’t have a mask requirement for riders, but they switched that rule soon after to require facial coverings. He says most of their riders appreciate the safety measures they have in place, and when they pick you up, they’ll be ready and wearing a mask.

“We keep sanitizers for the drivers and passengers. We sanitize the door handles most of the time in between trips. Like I said, it’s a serious issue so we don’t want our drivers to be hurt or our customers to be hurt,” said American Class Taxi Co-Owner, Nazar Osman.

Osman said if someone refuses to comply with their facial covering requirements, their ride will be denied, saying safety always comes first.

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