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Masks were announced to be optional on SEPTA vehicles and stations on April 18, 2022. Credit: Jesse Zhang

Following a federal ruling restricting mask mandates for public transportation, masks are now optional on SEPTA vehicles and in stations.

SEPTA's decision — prompted by a federal judge striking down the national mask mandate for public transportation and ruling that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had overstepped its authority — was announced Monday, the same day the citywide mask mandate went into effect again.

On Monday night, SEPTA released an alert via Twitter announcing that “in accordance with CDC and TSA recommendations, the wearing of masks aboard SEPTA vehicles and in SEPTA stations & concourses is recommended but no longer required of customers or employees.”

SEPTA Spokesperson Andrew Busch added that “all SEPTA employees working inside SEPTA offices, districts and shops within Philadelphia must continue to wear masks until further notice.”

Philadelphia International Airport made an announcement on Monday that clarified that masking is required in all terminals. 

Cheryl Bettigole, the city’s health commissioner, announced on April 11 that the city would be reinstating its indoor mask mandate, as confirmed COVID cases in Philadelphia had risen 50% over a 10-day period, Fox News reported.

The Inquirer reported that the federal ruling also extends to airlines, meaning that major airlines like American, United, Delta, Southwest, and Alaska announced masking is now optional on flights.

"Masks are annoying. There is no doubt that they are annoying. I don't like wearing them either, but they are a relatively mild intervention that could help to save lives and I think throughout this pandemic Philadelphians have shown that they are willing to do things that are annoying to take care of each other," Bettigole said, according to Fox News.

In compliance with the mandate, businesses, and universities — including Penn — have reintroduced indoor masking requirements.

The CDC advised in late February that millions of Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors, CBS reported. Philadelphia is currently the only major city in the U.S. with a reinstated mask mandate in place.