(KRON) — If you’re riding BART this morning, you will no longer be required to mask up. BART’s mask mandate effectively expired at 12:00 a.m. on Monday morning. The mandate was put into place on April 28 and was effective until July 18.
This is the first Monday in months that riders won’t be required to wear masks. The relaxing of the rule comes despite a surge in COVID cases, particularly the BA.5 variant, which has the ability to re-infect even those people who’ve had a recent infection.
The mandate was went into effect after a vote by the BART Board of Directors. The vote happened after the federal mask mandate for public transit was struck down.
BART is still encouraging riders to wear masks. The transit agency will provide face masks at station agent booths and from safety staff.
“I’m wearing my mask because I’m flying to see my grandparents and I just want to make sure they’re safe, even though I’m boosted and vaccinated,” said BART rider Camille Berzansky, speaking to KRON4’s Will Tran.
BART can extend the mask mandate, but there has been no word as to whether it will. COVID transmission levels have been high in all nine of the Bay Area’s counties for more than a month.
“We’re at a very high level, but not close to where we were in January,” said UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong. “And I think that’s probably the most objective number. So today at UCSF of what 44 patients across all four hospitals in January 150, so still a ways to go.”
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KRON4 spoke to UC Berkeley infectious disease specialist John Swartzberg, who said Bay Area county health officers may consider reinstituting indoor mask mandates once hospitals start filling up. As of Friday, none of the counties are planning to put mask mandates back in place.
In a blog post Monday, BART said masks are still “strongly encouraged” while on BART.