ITHACA, N.Y. –– In a statement sent out by the company Friday afternoon, Tompkins County Area Transit (TCAT) announced that all riders must now wear face masks when using public transportation.

The policy will go into effect at 8 p.m. on Friday April 17, in accordance with a mandate by Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued earlier this week.

Generally, the governor’s executive order requires all New Yorkers to wear a mask or a face covering while out and about in public when it’s impossible to practice social distancing (or keeping six feet apart from others.)  However, an updated directive from the governor yesterday specifically says “those using public or private transportation carriers or any for-hire transportation service” must cover their mouths and noses “during any such trip.”

“As annoying as it seems, wearing a mask is one of the best things that we can do,” said Cuomo  “I am sorry it makes people unhappy. I do not consider it a major burden and it really is a simple measure that can save lives.”

Those exempt include children 2-years-old and younger and those who cannot cover their faces for medical reasons. Acceptable face coverings include store-bought medical or workplace safety face masks, or those made from cloth, such as scarves, T-shirts and bandanas. 

“We are asking TCAT riders to please follow Gov. Cuomo’s orders to help protect their fellow riders and bus operators as we all continue to grapple with this pandemic,” said General Manager Scot Vanderpool. “The face-covering order has enough flexibility to allow people to use materials they already own without having to spend money.”

For information on how to make your own mask, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

More information on all state restrictions and mandated closings can be found here.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com