More Southland transit services are requiring people wear masks or face coverings while using their systems, as Amtrak announced Thursday it will mandate its customers to put on the COVID-19 protections starting Monday.
Amtrak stated services will be denied to customers not wearing facial coverings.
“To protect customers and employees, all customers in stations and on trains and thruway buses are required to wear a facial covering beginning May 11,” Amtrak announced on its website. “Facial coverings can be removed when customers are eating in designated areas, in their private rooms or seated alone or with a travel companion in their own pair of seats.”
Small children who are not able to “maintain a facial covering” are exempt from this requirement, Amtrak stated, and customers must supply their own facial covering.
Amtrak said its customers can go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, CDC.gov, for detailed instructions on how to make their own mask.
As Amtrak has reduced its services due to the pandemic, the transit operator said some stations may not be staffed.
If the station is closed, people can check the Amtrak app or call 1-800-USA-Rail to check train status while waiting in a personal vehicle.
The move follows Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s order on Wednesday when he announced travelers on the city’s DASH, Cityride and Commuter Express bus lines will be required to wear some kind of face covering starting Monday.
Riders were already required to enter and exit the city’s buses through the rear door to distance themselves from bus drivers.
County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who along with the other four county supervisors holds a seat on the 13-member Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority board, wrote a letter earlier this week to CEO Phil Washington to urge the transit system to require riders wear face coverings.
“Given what we know about the COVID-19 virus, the policy of not requiring face coverings puts both Metro passengers and bus drivers at risk,” Hahn wrote.
Hahn asked Washington to take action immediately rather than waiting for the board’s next meeting, set for May 28. Metro has suggested people wear face coverings while using their transit systems, but it has not required them at this time.
“Because so many other essential workers, from grocery store employees to restaurant workers, rely on Metro to get to and from work, Metro’s decision not to require face coverings threatens to compound the spread of this virus across our county,” Hahn wrote.
Joni Goheen, a spokeswoman for Metro, said the transportation authority plans to distribute a news release on the matter of face coverings Thursday afternoon.
Metrolink, the train service for the Southland that spans six counties, has not required its passengers to put on face coverings or masks.
“Our team is putting the finishing touches on a safety and customer-focused recovery plan that our board will consider this month,” Metrolink Board Chair Brian Humphrey stated Wednesday. “This plan will be informed by the survey results, guidance from health authorities and requirements of state and local government officials.”
“We are looking forward to our team preparing short-, medium- and long-term recommendations to address the new world we all must navigate,” Humphrey said.
According to the results of an in-house survey released Wednesday, Metrolink stated 39% of its riders during the pandemic identified as health care workers.
Of all survey respondents, 81% said they would resume using Metrolink, but not all at once. The survey found 29% said they would return as soon as the stay-at-home orders are lifted, with some planning to wait for schools to reopen or for a vaccine or related treatment to be available.