SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A new COVID-19 mask mandate is in full effect on public transportation.
The federal mandate was put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after President Joe Biden issued an executive order calling for immediate action on mask-wearing on all forms of public transportation.
This new rule isn’t anything new to the Chatham Area Transit Authority (CAT) since Savannah and Chatham County have had mask mandates in place for months now.
News 3 spoke with a local bus rider in Savannah who said she’s all for the new federal mask mandate put in place by the CDC to slow the spread of the coronavirus on public transportation.
“I think it’s very important that we have those to protect ourselves as well as protect others,” a bus rider said.
The mandate requires passengers to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth while riding the bus. The order exempts children under 2 years of age and people with a disability that makes it unsafe to wear a mask. CAT is now making rapid changes to enforce the rule.
“We’re still working with our union and law enforcement entities to see what can be done to gain compliance outside of voluntary compliance,” CAT Chief Safety Officer Charles Hall said.
Hall told News 3 that this mask mandate put in place is going to be hard to police because police officers need to respond to more urgent calls. But he said they’re going to do everything they can to give their bus drivers the proper training to deescalate a situation if a rider refuses to wear a mask.
If you don’t wear a mask you could be refused service.
“If you’re going to ride a CAT bus, we’re requiring and asking you diligently to please mask up,” Hall said.
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson is also in full support out of concern for the essential workers.
“We ask that you do this for the protection of the men and the women who drive our buses through our city,” Johnson said.
The CDC said some face coverings aren’t good enough to comply with the rule. Riders won’t be able to wear face shields, bandanas, masks with valves and masks that don’t fit properly.
CAT bus drivers will hand out masks to anybody who needs one.