Apr. 19—Greater Dayton RTA riders and travelers at the Dayton International Airport are no longer required to wear facial coverings after a federal judge struck down mask mandates for buses, planes and other public transportation.
The Greater Dayton RTA stopped requiring customers to wear masks Monday night, lifting a policy that had been in effect for roughly two years.
The Dayton airport is governed by federal regulations and follows TSA security directives, said Linda Hughes, air service manager at the Dayton airport.
The TSA on Monday said it no longer requires masks on public transportation and transportation hubs in response to the federal ruling handed down earlier in the day.
Bob Ruzinsky, RTA's CEO, said getting rid of his agency's mask requirement was an easy decision.
"Once the mandate was lifted by the courts, and the Biden Administration left it up to each transit system, I thought about how I am proud that over 90% of our drivers are fully vaccinated (and 35% are boosted) and felt the time was right for Dayton RTA to also lift the mask mandate," he said in an email.
RTA customers who wish to can still wear masks.
But Ruzinsky said most community members have learned how to live with COVID.
"I feel that if we have a major surge again folks will simply mask on their own," he said. "With vaccine levels up, folks are also more protected which helps a lot with keeping the spread manageable."
RTA riders and employees can wear masks if they choose, and the agency will continue to provide masks free of charge, Ruzinsky said.
Ruzinsky said the RTA didn't have a positive COVID case among its employees for a month and a half until last week, when a worker developed a "mild case."
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was extending its mask order for public transit and travel until May 3.
The order originally was supposed to expire on Monday.
But a federal judge in Florida struck down the mandate, and a variety of public transportation agencies and airlines immediately said they would do away with mask requirements and make facial coverings optional.
"Passengers should check with their airlines for their specific policies regarding wearing mask on their flights," said Hughes.
Still, some public transit agencies across the nation will continue to demand their customers wear facial coverings.
Many people waiting for buses at the RTA Wright Stop Plaza Transit Center in downtown Dayton on Tuesday afternoon wore masks.
Some customers seemed unaware the mandate has been rescinded, while others said they are in no hurry to shed face protection.
Brittney Rose, 32, who rides the bus several times each week, said she became very ill when she contracted COVID early on in the pandemic and to this day she still has a lingering dry cough.
Rose said she is very scared of getting COVID a second time, especially since she has medical issues that put her at risk of severe illness.
She's also very worried about infecting her five kids.
Rose said she will continue to wear a mask as a safety precaution while on the bus, at the transit center and outside when she's around crowds.
"I've got babies," she said. "I can't take no chances."
The CDC recommends that people continue to wear masks in indoor public transportation settings.