Mask mandates dropped on Roaring Fork Valley buses |

Mask mandates dropped on Roaring Fork Valley buses

Abrupt reversal follows federal judge’s decision in Florida on Monday

Staff report
Passengers board a RFTA bus headed downvalley from Aspen’s 8th Street bus stop after masks on public transportation became optional on Tuesday, April 19, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Passengers on buses in the Roaring Fork Valley no longer need to wear a mask, agencies decided Tuesday.

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and Snowmass Village transportation department stopped enforcing the mask mandate for employees and passengers during the Tuesday morning commute.

“Since the start of the pandemic RFTA’s goal has been to maintain essential transportation options while ensuring the safety of our customers, our employees, and our communities,” RFTA chief executive officer Dan Blankenship said in a prepared statement. “We are thankful for our staff members and loyal RFTA riders who have helped reduce the spread of COVID-19 as they continued to make a difference in our community as essential workers taking essential trips using RFTA.”

Masks are no longer required on Snowmass Village Shuttle buses and vehicles will be boarding to full capacity (including standing passengers) as of Tuesday, according to Snowmass Village Transportation Director David Peckler.

Also, Ride Glenwood buses no longer require masks for riders or drivers in alignment with federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and RFTA policy, a Glenwood official said Tuesday.

The abrupt reversal in mask requirements for public transportation came after a federal court in Florida ruled Monday that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to justify its decision and that the rulemaking procedures were flawed.

Federal agencies that oversee mass transit said after the ruling they would no longer enforce mask requirements on airplanes, trains, buses and shuttles. Aspen-Pitkin County Airport officials announced Tuesday they will no longer enforce facial coverings/masks in the terminal, effective immediately.

RFTA — the regional public bus operator — had required masks for the past two years.

“RFTA strongly encourages anyone who is not fully vaccinated, feeling ill, or who is immunocompromised or otherwise vulnerable to use caution and consider facial coverings for their personal safety,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday morning. “RFTA recommends wearing upgraded masks such as N95s, KN95s, KF94s, etc., since they provide a higher level of protection. RFTA plans to continue making blue surgical masks available for the immediate future for boarding passengers.”

All of the agency said they would continue to work with local and state public health departments to ensure safety measures are followed, as needed.

RFTA will continue certain COVID-19 precautions such as using roof vents or windows to increase ventilation on buses, supplying hand sanitizer on all buses and “fogging” buses regularly to disinfect them. Barriers that separate drivers from passengers will remain in place.

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