New Orders Issued By CDC and TSA, Passenger Mask Use Required on Motorcoach Trips
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order on Jan. 29, that seeks to implement the Executive Order. The CDC order requires the use of masks on all forms of publicly accessible transportation by passengers including motorcoaches, taxis, or ride-sharing vehicles. All motorcoach operators should have drivers provide an announcement that masks are required onboard as part of their passenger safety announcement.
There are no reporting requirements or civil penalties associated with this order. Additional information on this order, and related FAQs are available on the CDC website.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a Security Directive (SD) on Jan. 31, in response to the declaration of National Emergency and the Executive Order made by President Biden.
ABA has worked to assist TSA to craft the SD to take into consideration our industry’s unique operating environment, as we want to ensure the safe transportation of our passengers. The TSA order contains detailed requirements for a subset of motorcoach operations.
Here are a few highlights from the TSA SD:
* The directive will go into effective Feb. 1 at 11:59 p.m. ET. It is currently set to expire on May 11, 2021.
* Only fixed route and scheduled service motorcoach providers are covered by the TSA directive. All covered operators are directed to send an email to TSA-Surface@tsa.dhs.gov confirming that you have received notice of this directive. This must be done immediately.
* Covered operators are required to provide notice to your passengers of the requirements that they wear masks at terminals, intercity bus boarding/disembarking areas, and onboard the motorcoach. This notice must be provided on your websites, at the point of purchases for tickets (online, on mobile devices, or at kiosks) and we would also recommend that your passenger safety announcement be altered to include an announcement by the driver of the onboard mask requirement. There are very limited exemptions to wearing a mask. Please be sure to notify your vendor partners as well as any subcontracted carriers who provide transportation services along your advertised schedules in your stead.
* Any passenger who refuses to comply may be denied boarding and may be removed from the vehicle/facility before reaching their final destination. If there are any incidents involving non-compliant passengers, in addition to notifying law enforcement, operators are directed to report the incident to the TSA Transportation Security Operations Center (TSOC) at 866-615-5150 or 703-563-3240. TSA may pursue civil penalties against non-compliant passengers.
* Drivers are also required to wear masks, however exemptions may be made to ensure operational safety and should be in compliance with workplace health and safety rules or other regulations/guidance. For example, “Cloth face coverings or masks should not be worn if their use creates a new risk (i.e. interference with driving or vision, or contributions to heat-related illness) that exceeds their COVID-19 related benefits of slowing the spread of the virus.”
The full text of the TSA SD can be found online and a set of FAQ’s has also been developed.
ABA will also convene a conference call to review the contents of these orders and answer any questions that you may have.
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The announcements over the weekend were steps to implement the Executive Order issued by President Biden on Jan. 21. This order, titled “Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel”, seeks to require mask usage by passengers on all modes of commercial transportation.