The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) held its 16th ‘Mask Force’ event today, with MTA leaders and volunteers distributing thousands of free masks throughout the transit system. The 16th edition of Mask Force comes as the COVID-19 Omicron variant has become more prevalent in New York City, heightening the need to remind customers to wear a mask while on public transit.
“As the Omicron variant spreads throughout the New York City region, it’s more important than ever to remember that wearing a mask while riding is the best way to protect yourself and your fellow riders,” said Sarah Meyer, MTA Chief Customer Officer. “There are free masks available at subway station booths and on commuter railroad trains for anyone who needs one. There are announcements playing and thousands of signs posted throughout the system reminding riders that masks are required. The message is crystal clear: mask up.”
Since its inception, more than 1,250 New Yorkers have participated in the MTA Mask Force, handing out about 880,000 masks. Today, approximately 120 volunteers distributed masks. Masks are still required onboard trains, buses, paratransit vehicles, and at indoor stations regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. Latest surveys measure current mask usage is above 90% across all agencies.
Mask Force volunteers, MTA staff and elected officials today are at the following stations:
- 74 St-Roosevelt Av-Jackson Hts
- E 180 St
- Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr
- Coney Island-Stillwell Av
- Grand Central Terminal
- Times Square-42 St
- 168 St
- St. George SIR
The MTA has acquired for distribution to employees and customers 43 million masks to date. In addition to the 13.4 million masks available for customers, the Authority has also made available 750,000 2-oz bottles of hand sanitizer. Additionally, the Authority has distributed to its workforce 29.6 million masks, 32.3 million pairs of gloves, 152,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, 307,000 7-oz and 2-oz bottles of hand sanitizer, 17.9 million individual sanitizing cleaning wipes, 387,000 gallons of cleaning solution and 23,000 face shields.
Employees and volunteers wear bright yellow t-shirts and vests identifying them as part of the team. To sign up to volunteer for the MTA Mask Force, visit new.mta.info/maskforce.
The MTA first launched its Mask Force in July 2020 in order to supplement its existing distribution of masks in the transit system and acknowledge customers who are already compliant. Wearing a face covering on public transportation in New York was required by law under Executive Order 202.18. A $50 fine was implemented on Sept. 14, 2020 for violations.
Under updated CDC guidance, face masks are required on nearly all forms of public transportation through at least January 18, 2022, regardless of vaccination status.