New Jersey Transit riders who don't wear some sort of face covering won't be allowed to board the trains, according to Gov. Phil Murphy.
The strict rules to further enforce social distancing and to protect essential transit workers from contracting the coronavirus went into effect on Monday night following the governor's executive order.
“A face covering does not mean a medical-grade mask. We need to keep those for our front-line public health and safety responders, and they remain, I might add, in short supply,” Murphy said.
The new mandate also requires mass transit systems to reduce the number of people on board, cutting capacity on all trains, buses, light rail vehicles and paratransit vehicles by 50%.
Many people at Newark’s Penn Station were already covered up Monday afternoon, including Yolanda Epps. She said the pandemic had been devastating to homeless people like her.
“I’m asking passersby for their kindness and it’s getting me nowhere. I’m hungry. I’m cold. Homeless," she told NBC New York.
The order also comes as Gov. Murphy mandated all customers wear face coverings when walking into restaurants or bars to pick up takeout orders.
New York Gov. Cuomo has not yet issued an executive order requiring bus and train riders wear face coverings but the MTA continues to consider that option, especially as the two governors try to coordinate health and economic responses.
“I know for some of you, you may view this as just another inconvenience … But you know what would be really inconvenient, is if you ended up in the hospital with COVID-19, or you inadvertently infected a family member, maybe of an older generation, with the virus unwittingly,” Murphy said.
As of Monday night, more than 2,443 people with COVID-19 have died in New Jersey, and more than 64,854 have tested positive.