The Covid-19 pandemic has been a divisive and polarizing issue in the world for more than two years.
Judging by comments from public transport passengers they heard this week that they would no longer be required to wear masks on trains and buses, only to be told a day later that they would, that’s still the case.
A day after airports and airlines across the country scrapped their mask requirements for customers after a federal judge in Florida struck down a national mask mandate for flyers, Gov. Kathy Hochul refused to do the same. .
“We’re going to continue for public transportation,” he said during a news conference in Syracuse discussing a spike in new Covid-19 cases.
She said masks will also continue to be required in settings like nursing homes and prisons.
NFTA spokeswoman Helen Tederous said the authority’s decision follows Monday’s directive from the US Transportation Security Administration that it will no longer apply emergency measures ordered by President Biden in February. 2021 as a precaution against the spread of Covid-19.
“Let’s be smart about it,” he said.
The news did not go down well with William Thomas Lash Jr., who regularly uses public transportation to get to and from the Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
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As someone living with PTSD, he was thrilled to hear Tuesday that the Niagara Border Transportation Authority would no longer require public transit riders to wear a mask to help stop the spread of Covid-19, which he said made him feel confined.
And he was equally unhappy when the state stepped in Wednesday and reversed that decision.
“It doesn’t make sense to me,” he said as he waited inside the NFTA subway station at Amherst and Main streets.
“If it picks up anywhere else, then pick it up.”
Not all public transit riders in Buffalo were as upset as he was.
It’s the safest thing to do, said Daryl Parker, an East Side resident and frequent transit user waiting for a bus inside the NFTA subway station at Main and Utica streets.
“I’m powered up and everything, and I’m still wearing my mask,” Parker said, referring to his COVID-19 vaccination status.
“I don’t think this is going anywhere,” he said of the coronavirus. “It’s like the flu now.”
Alia Fields, a University District resident waiting inside a bus stop at Delavan Avenue and Main Street, also preferred to be cautious when it comes to wearing a mask in public spaces to protect against the spread of the various strains of Covid-19.
“They should not lift the mask mandate. For now, covid rates are going up. The mask mandate is to protect everyone, because you don’t know if people have covid or not,” Fields said.
All transportation authorities outside of New York City had announced that they would be waiving their mask requirements. New York City has kept its place for public transportation.
Following Monday’s decision by a federal judge in Florida that struck down Washington’s mask directives on public transportation, the US Transportation Security Administration said Monday night that it would eliminate mask requirements on public transportation. Buffalo Niagara and Niagara Falls International Airports. That prompted the Niagara Border Transportation Authority to do the same Tuesday.
But after Hochul’s statement, the NFTA clarified that masks will still be required for all of its services and facilities.
“First of all, we want to apologize for what is bound to be confusing for our travelers and passengers, but due to the Governor’s announcement to update the New York State Department of Health’s COVID regulations, masks will still be required at all state entities. public transport. within the state of New York until further notice. This includes Buffalo Niagara International and Niagara Falls international airports, Metro Bus and Rail, and all paratransit services,” the NFTA said in a statement.