To mask or not to mask? Now, it’s your choice whether to wear a face covering while using many public transit services in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia.
A decision by a federal judge in Florida on Monday threw out a national mask mandate for public transportation across the U.S. Following the judge's ruling, the Transportation Security Administration said it would no longer enforce masking at airports.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recently extended the mandate until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus now responsible for the vast majority of U.S. cases. But the court decision put the mandate on hold.
The ruling gives airports, mass transit systems, airlines and ride-hailing services the option to keep mask rules or ditch them entirely, resulting in rules that vary by city and mode of transportation.
The CDC still recommends wearing masks.
Several D.C.-area public transit agencies say they won’t enforce mask mandates, along with airlines, ride-hailing companies, airports and more.
Are masks required on Metro’s trains and buses?
Reporter Adam Tuss and the News4 team are covering you down on the roads and in transit.
“Effective immediately, Metro will make masks optional on Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess for its customers. Masks also will be optional for Metro employees,” WMATA said.
“Our mask mandate has been based on federal guidance,” said General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld. “We will continue to monitor this situation as it unfolds, but masks will be optional on Metro property until further notice.”
Are masks required on VRE, Virginia’s railways?
“Effective immediately, VRE passengers and crew members will no longer be required to wear a mask onboard the train,” VRE said in a statement Tuesday.
That message supersedes any messages heard on trains stating otherwise, officials said.
VRE says it will "support" passengers and crew who would like to wear masks.
Does the Maryland Transit Administration require masks?
MTA released the following statement on Tuesday morning in response to TSA's latest guidance: "Effective immediately, masks are now optional on all Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) buses, trains, and Mobility vehicles."
The MTA rule covers MARC trains and Maryland Department of Transportation-run commuter bus lines. Here's a full list of service alerts.
Must I wear a mask in an Uber, Lyft or taxi in D.C.?
D.C. says that local rules still require the use of masks in rideshares and taxis.
"Masks are still required while driving or riding in taxis or ride-hailing company vehicles. Local rules supersede individual company policies," the Department of For Hire Vehicles said.
Uber early Tuesday announced on its website that riders and drivers would no longer have to wear masks during trips. Riders are also no longer mandated to sit only in the back seats, Uber said, though it advised only using the front passenger seat if required by the size of the group riding.
"Many people still feel safer wearing a mask because of personal or family health situations, so please be respectful of their preferences. And if you ever feel uncomfortable, you can always cancel the trip," Uber says on its site.
Lyft also says masking is no longer required.
"We know that everyone has different comfort levels, and anyone who wants to continue wearing a mask is encouraged to do so. As always, drivers or riders can decline to accept or cancel any ride they don't wish to take," Lyft said in a statement reported by CNBC.
Do you have to wear a mask in airplanes and airports?
Major airlines were some of the first to update their in-flight rules after the court decision. United, Southwest, American, Alaska, Delta and JetBlue announced that, effective immediately, masks would no longer be required on domestic flights. Here’s more on planes and airports nationally.
Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport each shared the TSA’s statement, which said agents would no longer enforce masking. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority referred NBC4 to the same statement.
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport says masks are optional.
"Effective immediately, masks are now optional in the terminal and on flights arriving and departing from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport," MDOT said.
Does Amtrak require face coverings?
Amtrak says masks are encouraged but not required.
“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. Anyone needing or choosing to wear one is encouraged to do so,” Amtrak said.
Stay with News4 for more as transit agencies continue to respond to the developments.