OAKLAND, Calif. – Bay Area Rapid Transit has had a mask mandate in place for most of the coronavirus pandemic, but on Thursday, officials announced the mandate would end on October 1.
The BART board of directors approved the resolution in a vote at Thursday’s director’s meeting. They based their decision on regional public health officials who are currently not requiring masks be worn indoors.
BART briefly did away with the mask mandate over the summer, but many criticized the move as premature with many cases of infections, stemming from the contagious omicron variant, prevailing throughout the region.
BART’s general manager still has the authority to amend the resolution to require masks be worn on trains and at station platforms if the conditions change; such as a spike in cases, or if local health departments in areas served by BART, reinstate an indoor mask mandate. They would also reinstate the mandate if Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Transportation Security Administration required them to do so.
California’s overall COVID-19 data has vastly improved in the past month or so. On Thursday, California Department of Public Health said the state’s positivity rate was at 5%; markedly different from the 16% and upwards seen earlier in the summer.
The latest state health department data shows 283 patients are in ICU with COVID and average daily deaths from the disease is now 26.
BART encourages riders to continue wearing masks throughout the system once the mandate expires. The transit agency will still provide free masks at station agent booths and from BART police personnel.